Public Preferences for Marine Protected Areas Off the U.S. West Coast: The Significance of Restrictions and Size on Economic Value
As a non-market good, the economic value of an MPA is not revealed in market data or by household production behavior (e.g., travel costs used as the price of a fishing trip); therefore, values are typically estimated from data collected from in-person, telephone, mail, or internet surveys. This research employs a stated preference choice experiment survey of households in California, Oregon, and Washington to quantify public preferences and simulate a suite of different MPA designs and their associated values. The research pertains specifically to MPAs designated in U.S. federal waters (waters 3 to 200 miles from shore) off the coasts of California, Washington, and Oregon West Coast, hereafter referred to as west coast federal waters. All permanently protected marine areas located in west coast federal waters prohibit industrial uses such as mining, oil and gas extraction, and windmill/turbine construction.
The results may be useful in helping managers understand public preferences for MPAs, particularly as they relate to key, and often contested, issues including:
- The effect of MPA size on public economic value
- The effect of MPA use regime on public economic value
- Size/use combinations for MPAs that maximize public values
- Preference heterogeneity for MPAs
The remainder of the report is organized as follows: Section II describes the methods used in the research, including survey development and implementation and choice model theory and estimation. Section III presents results of the general questionnaire and respondent demographics. Section IV presents econometric model results and value estimates associated with MPAs of different size and use configurations. Section V provides a brief discussion of the results and conclusions and recommendations stemming from the research.