Divers' Willingness to Pay for Improved Coral Reef Conditions in Guam

Grafeld, Shanna
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2015]
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Coral reefs are degrading globally, yet are essential to coastal and island economies, particularly in the Pacific. The diving industry benefits from coral reef management and can be positively or negatively impacted by ecological change. Quantifying divers’ ecological preferences can help inform managers and justify conservation. Utilizing non-market valuation, we assess SCUBA divers’ preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for ecological attributes of coral reef ecosystems in Guam, and investigate socioeconomic drivers influencing preferences. A discrete choice experiment grounded in ecosystem modeling revealed divers were willing to pay user fees in reef ecosystems with greater ecological health (higher fish biomass, diversity, and charismatic species). Improvement in fish biomass from low (<25g/m2) to high (>60g/m2) was worth over $2 million/year. The presence of sharks and turtles together was the most favored attribute, with a WTP of $15-20 million/year. Contingent valuation results suggested divers were willing to make voluntary payments of $900 thousand towards sediment-reduction projects in upland watersheds. These payments could benefit divers and the broader tourism industry by improving reef conditions. Relatively few policy instruments are in place worldwide collecting fees from divers for coastal management, and none in Guam. My results suggest this remains an untapped funding source for coral reef management and conservation.
M.S. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Theses for the degree of Master of Science (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Natural Resources & Environmental Management
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