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Shannon Marwitz
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Coastal Capital: Belize Bailey suggested that consumers should be asked their maximum willingness to pay. I would be very interested to see how those values compared to the ones presented in this study because it is my sense that placing a value on storm protection is much harder. It is easy to think about how you felt prior to your snorkel and how you felt after and place a value on that experience. When dealing with something like storm protection, the reef has always provided it so there is nothing to compare it to. I would suspect that services such as storm protection would be undervalued using contingent value method for this reason. I also agree with what has been said about the need for more immediate action. In oceanography, we discussed “fishing down the food chain”. This is when top predators are overharvested, which causes there to be many more of the fish the predators typically feed on. These fish are then targeted for harvesting, and the cycle continues. Once this has happened, it is incredibly difficult for the system to return to the original distribution. Since declines have already been observed in several fish species in Belize, this is an important phenomenon to consider. Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Like Corinne, I was pretty surprised by how disjointed the MPAs seemed to be. In oceanography, we also read a paper about designing the most effective MPAs with regard to recovering fish populations. The authors discussed the appropriate dimensions, the spacing between and configuration of the MPAs, the inclusion of no-take zones, and a variety of other suggestions. However, their conclusions by no means should be considered the solution. Obviously, there is great variability in the types of marine ecosystems and the threats that they face so one set-up cannot be applied universally. Also, it only examined one piece of the ecosystem recovery: fisheries. The paper by Hargreaves-Allen goes beyond fisheries to examine the role of tourism and obtains values for different aspects of the reserve. This type of research is really important because while recovering fish populations may be important, it might not be as valuable another aspect of the reserve. If two processes are competing, having economic values will indicate which process to favor. Ultimately, I think that combining this type of economic research with scientific research could result in a superiorly designed system.
Toggle Commented Apr 26, 2013 on Un Belizeable!!!! at Jolly Green General
Like Joe, I was really interested in how the program was designed. When thinking about getting a community to buy into a policy, it was always my intuition that you would conduct the research and then present your findings to the stakeholders, but in this case, the community members were included in the research process. This way of going about it makes a lot of sense. Not only do you have more people involved allowing for more data collection, but I think people would be much more willing to follow policy recommendations. In general, people are more willing to do something if they figure it out on their own than if they are just told to do it by someone else. I also noted that just like other articles we read which have used previous surveys as a template, Seychelles adopted a modified version of Western Australia's encounter policy. This highlights the importance of cooperation and the need for literature to be easily accessible.
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.
Toggle Commented Apr 25, 2013 on testing at Jolly Green General
The Willingness to Pay-Willingness to Accept Gap Revisited: The Role of Emotions and Moral Satisfaction Like Holley, I found the trolley example to be quite illustrative of the difference between omission and commission. It was easy for me to understand how the emotions associated with pushing a man in front of trolley and having to get your hands dirty would differ greatly from simply switching the tracks and achieving the same outcome. It made me think of yesterday’s article on paying for coral protection and the role that emotions had played. That businesses should bear the costs instead and that they personally not responsible for degradation were both cited as reasons for being unwilling to pay for coral protection. Both of these protest bids involve the tourists feeling detached from the problem, which explains why they feel less guilt in not paying into a fund. I was also interested in the discussion of anonymity and how important of a role it can play in responses. Again, it made me question how some of the interviews in coral protection article were conducted with couples and whether this introduced some bias. Also, it made me think about how we plan to conduct our surveys. If we do distribute some through the dive shops, anonymity is obviously not a problem, but would respondents feel some pressure when the interviews are done in person? Trade-offs Between Conservation and Socio-Economic Objectives in Managing a Tropical Marine Ecosystem I agree that the long-term consequences should serve as the basis of today’s policies, and really appreciated that the paper recognized that what is best in the long-run can present some negatives in the immediate future. Another important point that I took form this was that it is necessary to look at the whole picture when trying to decide what is the best course of action. For example, when policy objectives focused mainly on conservation, the invertebrate and small fish biomass declined, which is the opposite of the aim of the policy. However, further investigation would suggest that this decline is a result of increased predation due to more predators, which was an objective. The same can be said for the collapse of the Atlantic Cod fishery – the blooming of invertebrate fisheries as a result of decreased predation does not necessarily signal a healthy ecosystem. Ecosystem services of the tropical seascape: Interactions, Substitutions, and Restoration I found many of the techniques proposed to aid in restoring or replacing damaged ecosystems to be fascinating, but as have others have noted was overwhelmed by the associated costs and by the uncertainty of their success. I think of how incredible and complex these systems are and the idea that humans could be able to mimic or recreate them seems pretty farfetched, and I question how we could truly measure the success of our attempts. It is clear that you could look to Table 1 and compare the provision of ecosystem services before and after; however, I think our knowledge of how nature operates is imperfect and how can we be sure that this table captures all that is being offered by the natural system?
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2013 on Three more for Wednesday at Jolly Green General
A Practitioner’s Primer on the contingent valuation method I was blown away by just how much goes into designing a survey. It made me think back on all the surveys that I have taken in my life and been completely unaware of all that went into them. I was also shocked by the costs associated with the conducting a survey. One aspect of surveys that I had not considered was the possibility of people skipping sections of the survey if they were too long, and I found the suggest to break up the text by inserting questions, even if you don't intend to use them, to ensure that the respondent remains engaged. Finally, I was surprised by how different data analysis can be when a closed-ended question is selected as opposed to open-ended question.
Economics of Marine Ecosystem Goods and Services I thought that these sections did a really good job of outlining and explaining the different types of services and values. To me, the distinction between ecosystem services and ecosystem benefits was particularly interesting. It makes sense that you would only look at benefits when determining value, but it was not something that had crossed my mind before. Similarly, I had never thought about the fact that the total value of something is not necessarily the sum of the individual component values. One thing that I did bother me about with this piece was the fact willingness to pay would likely depend on an individual's awareness of benefits being derived, as others have mentioned, and I think that providing some background information in the survey is a good way to ameliorate this.
Are tourists willing to pay additional fees to protect corals in Mexico? Like Corinne, one area of this paper that really stuck out to me was that about a quarter of the interviews were conducted with couples. I would think that this could be a serious source of bias if the individuals are able to see how their partners are responding to the questions. The paper also mentioned warm glow bias, where "the respondent has a good feeling about the issue without truly caring for it," but did not propose any methods to combat this. I would be interested to learn if there are ways to take this issue into account. I was also intrigued by the finding that the longer a survey took, the lower a person's willingness to pay. It was suggested that this could be a result of survey fatigue. I would have thought that the amount of time it would take to complete the survey would be relatively similar since everyone is taking the same one. It made me wonder if survey length might have been a result of people’s feelings towards the reefs and it was those attitudes that influenced willingness to pay.
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Apr 22, 2013