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Bailey Ewing

Is the non-market literature adequate to support coastal and marine management?

In Developmental Econoimcs we spoke about a black box between Economic Theory and Policy. The purpose of investing time and resources into economic research is to learn about a topic and find ways to increase its usefulness or value. This article delves into many constraints and difficulties that we face if the system of research, analysis and policy implementation does not become a collaborative effort that can grow substantially and become more readily available and reliable. With respect to coastal valuation, we are headed in the right direction with The Environmental Valuation Reference Inventory database and the National Ocean Econoimcs Program that provide a compilation of coastal economic valuation research, and importantly research through a variety of methods. However, several steps must occur in order to create an efficient system that turns viable research into effective policy.

The major problem with contingent valuation studies becoming sufficient for policy implementation is the fact that contingent valuation contains so many detailed facets. For example, when there are five peer-reviewed literature on wildlife and only three on ecosystems the problem arises: how can we relate these two research fields in order to solve the big picture problem of oceanic conservation and sustainability? Other problems occur when not enough research is done in a specific region or in a specific amount of time. Overall, it seems clear that in order to turn all of this research into something that will benefit society, there needs to be much higher levels of collaboration between experts and an incredible amount of funds invested.

Corinne Hemmersbach

Is the Non-market Literature Adequate to Support Coastal and Marine Management?

Because policy analysts are increasingly looking to literature for estimates of the non-market value of coastal and marine resources, Pendleton, Atiyah, and Moorthy examined the literature themselves. They found that the literature is generally insufficient to support effective policy-making. Frequency of publication in recent years has declined, the literature is concentrated on only a few of the assets, geographic coverage of the literature is concentrated, and only a small number of authors are responsible for the majority of the research output. Needless to say, I found this article troublesome. Policy analysts need non-market valuation data on ocean and coastal resources to make better-informed decisions on policy. How are they supposed to do this if the non-market valuation data is insufficient for their region or the specific asset today? It seems that the NOEP is making good strides forward to address these current issues. According to the authors, if these issues are not addressed, previous research on the non-market valuation of coastal and marine resources can not be used effectively to inform coastal zone policy.

Katie D'Innocenzo

Pendleton, Atiyah and Moorthy put together a paper that lays out the main issues with research surrounding coastal and marine management: there is not enough data and the data/research currently out there is not easily accessible and available. I think it's fairly obvious to anyone who looks closely at coastal and marine policy that the literature and research is simply not substantial enough to carry the necessary weight when it comes to policy decisions. These authors point out four main problems with current literature: Assets have not been studied thoroughly, recently enough, over an acceptable geographical span or with a sufficient variety of methods. Essentially, the more complete and thorough data gathered on coastal and marine economic goods and services, the more likely policy will be implemented in order to optimally protect and preserve these ecosystems. The authors suggest that by utilizing use and non-use value as well as stated and revealed preference methods of assessing economic value a more substantial methodological breadth can be achieved. By expanding this idea to include more up to date and geographically diverse data as well as creating a data base that allows this research to be more readily available, both in peer reviewed and raw or working form, the authors believe the inadequacy of current coastal and marine management literature can be solved.

Kate LeMasters

The previous blogs give robust summaries of this article, stating that we must delve further into non-market valuation, extend its scope, and more closely tie it to policy if it is to have an impact. This is undoubtedly true, as Bailey mentioned the black box between theory and policy that continues to exist. Acknowledging this problem is quite a step on the trajectory, but it is only the first step of many.
I wonder if there are updates to the scope of research done since this article was published in 2007. I may have a skewed view because we have focused so much on non-market valuation done in marine environments, but it seems to me that the current research addresses many of the holes in the data that the authors address. I would be interested to see an updated study that evaluates the current knowledge base.
I also wonder why choice experiments were not discussed, as these allow the researcher to value multiple assets at a time rather than just one. It would also allow the researcher to see how much one asset is valued relative to another through a non-use value method, something that hedonic price methods do through use valuation.
Finally, I am curious as to why much research has been done regarding beaches but not on other aspects of marine environments. I know that tourists, and, hence, sources of money, are very concerned with beaches, but this disregards the whole seascape that we discussed in class. If we are looking at long-term effects, we must consider the whole seascape. If we value only beaches, we disregard sea grass, mangroves, corals, and other aspects that are integral to beaches. This article seems to state just what articles from yesterday warned against: valuing coastal ecosystems in segmented forms is detrimental to the entire seascape. We must address this issue and approach this problem holistically if we are to make policy decisions that alter long-term health of beaches. The authors emphasize using different valuation methods, but they remain focused on singular assets; we must focus on multiple methods and multiple assets

Emily Shu

Is the non-market literature adequate to support coastal and marine management?

Today, we discussed in class the necessity of “mutual coercion mutually agreed upon” in order to adequately protect the commons and reverse the drastic decline of coastal and marine resources in recent years. However, in order to do so, effective policy must be implemented. As others have noted, the article shows that there is a dearth of current and relevant studies regarding the valuation of coastal and marine assets, ultimately hindering the policy-making process. What interested me was that though there are many studies discussing the value of beaches and fisheries, assets with use value, there are noticeably fewer articles addressing the non-market valuation of what can be considered non-use assets such as reefs.
The differences between travel cost, contingent valuation, and hedonic methods also intrigued me since the article states that certain methods are disproportionately referenced with particular assets or uses. Given that beach values have been estimated using every one of these techniques, I think it would be interesting to see how the values differed or if they resulted in a consensus. If values differed, would it be possible to use a certain valuation method to skew the results of a particular study?
With a very small group of authors who specialize in particular geographic regions and assets, the limited literature restricts successful policy implementation. What is most concerning to me is that the frequency of publications regarding valuation of coastal and marine resources has declined. Is there an underlying impetus for this, especially now when research is so integral to the conservation policy-making process?

Holley Beasley

This article gave me a different perspective on the role of government and policy makers in natural resource conservation. I was always under the impression that the research and proof was there, the government was just being slow to act because the implementation of things like a carbon tax or fishing licenses might not be welcomed by the general public. But this article posed an issue that was new to me: "the literature is generally insufficient to support effecting policy-making". After reading it, I understand why it is insufficient and I see the gaps and discrepancies that have been created. However, I, like Kate, also probably have a skewed view after focusing so much on non-market valuation in marine ecosystems and agree that current research probably addresses many of the holes addressed by this article. I would be very interested to see an updated study on the sufficiency of current literature.

A big problem addressed by this article is that a lot of the research focuses on beaches but not the other components of the tropical seascape. I do not think that the solution to this problem would be to start doing non-market valuation studies on other components like sea grass or mangroves. Like we talked about in class today, most people are willing to pay to preserve sea turtles, but not to preserve sea grass, the sea turtles' habitat. If economists rely on stated preference studies to determine the economic value of sea grass, the results will not be reflective of its true value. The general public may not place a huge value on sea grass individually, but unfortunately we don't get to pick and choose which parts of the seascape we want and which ones we don't. If people value beaches and sea turtles, they inherently value sea grass; they just may not know it yet.

Jennifer  Friberg

As many of my classmates admitted, I was also surprised by the lack of data on the non-market valuation in even the more commonly researched areas such as beaches, land, and fisheries. With the majority of the peer-reviewed literature submitted by only eight different authors, many of who worked together on multiple papers, there is not substantial, recent, scientific support to initiate any sort of general policy. Another contribution to the lack of policies resulting from the non-market valuation research being done is the fact that most of the research has a clear focus on specific places, such as beaches and land in north carolina and california. My initial reaction to p. 372 where the article states that little research has been done in the Pacific Northwest, mentioning Alaska, started me thinking about the ANWR oil drilling. This article being from 2007 could not possibly enlighten me about non-market valuation done in Alaska in regards to the ANWR drilling but I would be curious to see what kinds of research went in to protesting the drilling, especially since the region is not a commonly researched location according to this article.

Shannon Marwitz

Like many others, I found it troublesome that there were so many gaps in the literature that effective policy-making is severely limited. However, the conclusion of the paper left me feeling somewhat hopeful. The fact that NOEP is establishing a clearinghouse that will allow for easier access to more literature is a big step, but the fact remains that present research is not sufficient. The clearinghouse infrastructure will be of great benefit, but the immediate concern should be collecting more information that can then later be accessed through the clearinghouse. This piece did identified what areas are in the greatest need of additional research so while the conclusions may seem dismal at first glance, at least we know what we are dealing with and what needs to be done from here on out. The shift in which journals non-market valuation studies are being published was interesting to me. The authors suggested that this change signals that these studies are now being employed for coastal management as opposed to economic research. I was curious that this change in publication pattern and the decline in literature coincided in the past decade.

Joe Moravec

I find that this disconnect between science/social science and policy-makers is not necessarily over the lack of research, but a general distrust of the research from the beginning. As we discussed in class today, Policy-makers don't like to consider trade-offs (particularly when it comes to jobs), and they certainly don't like have to sift through complicated economics literature on non-market valuations. Rather I think policy-makers most likely want a solid data set (no margin for error) and possible solutions in hand before really moving forward, and since this just isn't possible with current methods, the current research has been largely ignored.

Joe Moravec

Sorry, it didn't post my whole statement, just the last paragraph.

Also wanted to make sure I add that given previous comments about the lack of research and funding for it being a key factor in policy-makers "slowness" on environmental policy, we need to reexamine this notion. Policy-makers and institutions have the resources to conduct this research if they felt it necessary (the EPA, UNEP, and NOAA have very large budgets and all have economists). The fact is, following the Exxon Valdez spill, much was done to discredit CV methodologies and since then there has been great effort to reestablish CV as an accurate measure of economic values. However, as a politics major, I am always skeptical of corporate influence. As long as the research indicates that protecting the environment will have trade-offs (as we discussed in today's class), and this may be in the form of economic productivity, there will be companies which pay to prevent this.

There might be then another explanation as to the lack of research. Other industries don't want that research done. Say for instance, I own 50km of coastline and I convert it to aquaculture, I will certainly be concerned when policy-makers call for more informed research on protecting mangrove forests. So, because I have significant economic and political pressure to bear, I press local politicians to stifle the research, or to keep it from influencing decisions. It may be a cynical perspective, but this happens more than we would like to think.

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