The non-consumptive economic value of spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, in the Turks and Caicos Islands

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Increases in spiny lobster size and abundance have been observed within some marine protected areas (MPAs). To date, the potential economic benefits of these changes have been assumed to derive from the effects of emigration of adult lobster to adjacent fishing grounds and/or increased larval export to downstream nurseries that sustain fisheries. According to economic theory, these effects may provide consumptive (extractive) economic value to the fishery but are only part of the total economic value. Non-extractive economic value resulting from viewing wildlife may also have an important impact on the overall economic viability of some MPAs. This research examined scuba diver preferences in the Turks and Caicos Islands using a paired comparison conjoint survey and assessed the influence that spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) presence had on market share for dive charter packages of varying environmental quality and price. Market simulations showed significant increases in market share for dives where spiny lobsters were present, implying, for the first time, that spiny lobsters have non-extractive economic value. This non-extractive value of spiny lobster may have an important impact on the economic viability of some MPAs, especially those in regions like the Turks and Caicos Islands that are highly dependent on marine-oriented nature tourism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-234
JournalEnvironmental conservation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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