Valuing High Seas Ecosystem Conservation

Peer Reviewed
15 February 2021

Bui Bich Xuan, Claire W. Armstrong, Isaac Ankamah‐Yeboah, Stephen Hynes, Katherine Needham

The high seas are known to provide a variety of ecosystem services that are of benefit to society. There have however been few attempts to quantify the welfare impacts of changes to the delivery of these benefits. This study assesses the values of several key ecosystem service benefits derived from protecting ecosystems in the high seas area of Flemish Cap. To accomplish this analysis a choice experiment was conducted in three countries: Canada, Norway and Scotland. Rather than solely eliciting public willingness‐to‐pay, we went a step further to explore the determinants of variance in these estimates. Specifically, we aimed to answer three research questions: (1) how much are respondents willing to pay for high‐seas ecosystems conservation, (2) which factors influence individual willingness‐to‐pay, and (3) whether individuals residing in Canada have a higher willingness‐to‐pay compared to those living in Norway and Scotland. This latter question captures distance‐decay effects. The results show that on average the public placed positive value on conserving high‐seas ecosystems and on developing economic activities related to the exploitation and exploration of marine resources, despite a lack of awareness and familiarity with these environments. Distance‐decay effects on willingness‐to‐pay were not clear, as the Scots had the highest willingness‐to‐pay and the Norwegians the lowest willingness‐to‐pay for all attributes, with the only exception being willingness‐to‐pay for a large increase in new jobs where Canadian willingness‐to‐pay was higher than for the Scots. The public willingness‐to‐pay was influenced by socio‐demographic characteristics and their perceptions of high‐seas ecosystems. Our study provides the evidences of the impacts of high‐seas governance on the welfare of people, and the improved governance could increase the values of high‐seas ecosystems and the services they produce.

EfD Authors

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Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Xuan, B. B., Armstrong, C. W., Ankamah‐Yeboah, I., Hynes, S., & Needham, K. (2021). Valuing High Seas Ecosystem Conservation. Conservation Biology. doi:10.1111/cobi.13720
Publication | 16 March 2021