Divers’ Willingness to Pay for Improved Coral Reef Conditions in Guam: An Untapped Source of Funding for Management and Conservation?

25 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2015

See all articles by Shanna Grafeld

Shanna Grafeld

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Kirsten Oleson

University of Hawaii Manoa

Michele Barnes

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University; University of Hawaii at Manoa

Marcus Peng

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Catherine K. Chan-Halbrendt

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics; University of Hawaii - College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR)

Mariska Weijerman

University of Hawaii

Date Written: September 23, 2015

Abstract

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 that influence economic outcomes can help inform managers and justify conservation. Utilizing non-market valuation, we assess SCUBA divers’ preferences and WTP for ecological attributes of coral reef ecosystems in Guam, and investigate socioeconomic drivers influencing preferences. A discrete choice experiment grounded in ecosystem modeling reveals divers are 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. Presence of sharks and turtles together was the preeminent attribute, with divers WTP $15-20 million/year. Contingent valuation results suggest divers are willing to make voluntary payments ($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. Our results suggest this remains an untapped funding source for coral reef management and conservation.

Keywords: Coral reefs, sharks, Guam, ecosystem based management, tourism

Suggested Citation

Grafeld, Shanna and Oleson, Kirsten and Barnes, Michele and Peng, Marcus and Chan-Halbrendt, Catherine K. and Weijerman, Mariska, Divers’ Willingness to Pay for Improved Coral Reef Conditions in Guam: An Untapped Source of Funding for Management and Conservation? (September 23, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2664405 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2664405

Shanna Grafeld (Contact Author)

University of Hawaii at Manoa ( email )

NREM
1910 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI NA 96822
United States

Kirsten Oleson

University of Hawaii Manoa ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~koleson

Michele Barnes

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University ( email )

Townsville, Queensland 4811
Australia

University of Hawaii at Manoa ( email )

2500 Campus Road
Honolulu, HI NA 96822
United States

Marcus Peng

University of Hawaii at Manoa ( email )

NREM
1910 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI NA 96822
United States

Catherine K. Chan-Halbrendt

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom

University of Hawaii - College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) ( email )

HI
United States

Mariska Weijerman

University of Hawaii ( email )

Honolulu, HI 96822
United States

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