Valuing conservation benefits of an offshore marine protected area
Increasing anthropogenic pressure in the offshore marine environment highlights the need for improved management and conservation of offshore ecosystems. This study scrutinises the applicability of a discrete choice experiment to value the expected benefits arising from the conservation of an offshore sandbank in UK waters. The valuation scenario refers to the UK part of the Dogger Bank, in the southern North Sea, and is based on real-world management options for fisheries, wind farms and marine protection currently under discussion for the site. It is assessed to what extent the general public perceive and value conservation benefits arising from an offshore marine protected area. The survey reveals support for marine conservation measures despite the general public's limited prior knowledge of current marine planning. Results further show significant values for an increase in species diversity, the protection of certain charismatic species and a restriction in the spread of invasive species across the site. Implications for policy and management with respect to commercial fishing, wind farm construction and nature conservation are discussed.