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Matthew Moore

I think the idea of trying to monetize environmental resources through a tax system is an interesting idea, but I wonder if the revenues generated would be sufficient to reverse or prevent environmental degradation. Due to the importance of reefs to ocean quality and global benefit, might this be a similar situation to the example discussed in class concerning global payment for global environmental benefit. This is an issue especially important to me concerning the wetlands in Louisiana, where I am from. Every hour, land equivalent to the size of a football field due to coastal erosion and which is further harmed by spill off from offshore drilling. These wetlands serve as critical land barriers to hurricanes. Maybe a similar tax on fishermen and others who use this area could provide necessary funding to reverse this trend.

Grant Przybyla

I found the results of this paper fairly unsurprising. That scuba divers in Barbados (and most likely in other areas as well) value an experience where they witness living coral and significant amounts of marine diversity seems obvious – these are the principle reasons why people scuba dive. I also think that it is unsurprising that these divers were by and large willing to pay more for a better experience. Looking at the characteristics of those who responded to the survey, we find that “the sample was generally affluent and well educated” (p32). As we have mentioned in class, willingness to pay is a function of ability to pay. When the sample group is able to pay more for a better experience, it is unsurprising that the sample group was also willing to pay more for a better experience.

Matthew Inglis

Many of the above posts do well at pointing out the potential flaws in the paper. There indeed does seem to be a lack of sample diversity, resulting in perhaps irrelevant data. At the same time, however, the divers are the intended focus. It is not necessary to poll the 'hungry islanders' that another student pointed out if the force behind the study is to determine a certain willingness to pay for recreation. Going slightly off topic, the information gained from this study could very well provide economic stimulus through higher prices for dives, which in turn could aid needy islanders. The study accomplishes its goal of evaluating the target consumer of the marine biodiversity. What I find truly telling is the detail of the consumer in which the study goes. The affluence and diving experience of many of the divers are two details that some have argued create bias. To the contrary, I believe that they truly represent the consumer that can afford the marine recreation. This also helps in understanding the considerably higher willingness to pay for higher quality marine biodiversity.

Genny Francis

First, I found it interesting that divers with more experience had different preferences for coral cover than more experienced divers. Second, the article discusses how these findings could be incorporated into marine spatial planning in the area. Has that been attempted since the article was published, and if so how successful has that been? Has this non monetary valuation technique been used in more areas in the past few years? It seems like this technique could be very beneficial to use along with marine spatial planning in many different regions.

Timothy Evan

I found that this paper very succinctly summarized many of the environmental issues that we discussed in class, in particular the idea of conserving resources for the long term versus using them up in the short term. My primary concern is regarding the participants surveyed. In particular, because a majority of respondents came from two countries (the US and UK), they may be biased in that regard. Additionally, given that most participants are wealthy and well educated, other complications may arise. For example, wealthy and well educated individuals may be more conservation minded. Further, these individuals may be more willing to pay additional amounts in order to conserve environmental resources, whereas poorer individuals might appreciate environmental resources, but be unwilling to pay to preserve them. Altogether, this means that while the study does accurately express the willingness to pay of wealthy, well-educated divers, it may be less representative of more divers. I should note that the conclusion does largely address my concerns.

Jack Koch

The use of stated preference as a means to determine willingness to pay and thus the economic value of natural resources makes theoretical sense to a certain extent. However, the sample used in the choice experiment in this article yielded results that could be misleading. For example, the sample size of 165 survey respondents is relatively small, and it is possible that the responses do not accurately reflect the preferences of the whole population. Furthermore, the sample used in the experiment might not be a random sample, and this can skew the results in such a way that policy makers would be mislead. For example, it is mentioned in the article that many of the respondents are married. Because married people might influence each other’s preference and willingness to pay, their survey results might be misleading. Finally, there are many experienced divers within the sample, so the sample might not be an accurate reflection of the whole population, which has relatively few experienced divers.

Sara Cook

This week's paper used a non-market valuation technique to estimate the economic value of marine biodiversity in the Barbados. I find it problematic to place monetary value on biodiversity and natural resources based on a recreational ecotourism activity, like SCUBA diving. Ecotourism is partially dependent on the state of the economy. When the economy is in a recession individuals are more likely to save their money for 'immediate' and 'necessary' needs (food, loans, savings, etc.) and spend less on recreational activities and travel. This choice illustrates a revealed preference towards goods and services that financial and health rewards. More research must be done in bio-diverse areas that highlight the societal health gains of conserving and improving ecosystems. This research coupled with researching the economic incentive of ecotourism should be the empirical evidence policy makers utilize in conservation efforts.

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