Seafood prices reveal impacts of a major ecological disturbance.
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Coastal hypoxia (dissolved oxygen ≤ 2 mg/L) is a growing problem worldwide that threatens marine ecosystem services, but little is known about economic effects on fisheries. Here, we provide evidence that hypoxia causes economic impacts on a major fishery. Ecological studies of hypoxia and marine fauna suggest multiple mechanisms through which hypoxia can skew a population's size distribution toward smaller individuals. These mechanisms produce sharp predictions about changes in seafood markets. Hypoxia is hypothesized to decrease the quantity of large shrimp relative to small shrimp and increase the price of large shrimp relative to small shrimp. We test these hypotheses using time series of size-based prices. Naive quantity-based models using treatment/control comparisons in hypoxic and nonhypoxic areas produce null results, but we find strong evidence of the hypothesized effects in the relative prices: Hypoxia increases the relative price of large shrimp compared with small shrimp. The effects of fuel prices provide supporting evidence. Empirical models of fishing effort and bioeconomic simulations explain why quantifying effects of hypoxia on fisheries using quantity data has been inconclusive. Specifically, spatial-dynamic feedbacks across the natural system (the fish stock) and human system (the mobile fishing fleet) confound "treated" and "control" areas. Consequently, analyses of price data, which rely on a market counterfactual, are able to reveal effects of the ecological disturbance that are obscured in quantity data. Our results are an important step toward quantifying the economic value of reduced upstream nutrient loading in the Mississippi Basin and are broadly applicable to other coupled human-natural systems.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1073/pnas.1617948114
Publication InfoAsche, Frank; Bennear, Lori Snyder; Craig, JK; Kirkpatrick, AJ; Nance, JM; Oglend, A; & Smith, Martin D (2017). Seafood prices reveal impacts of a major ecological disturbance. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114(7). pp. 1512-1517. 10.1073/pnas.1617948114. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/16086.
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Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor
My research focuses on evaluating environmental policies and improving methods and techniques for conducting these evaluations. While the field of policy evaluation is a broad one, my specific niche is in bringing rigorous quantitative methods to evaluate environmental policy innovations along four dimensions. (1) Evaluating the effectiveness of environmental policies and programs. This line of research uses statistical analysis to estimate the extent to which environmenta
Professor of Environmental Economics in the
Smith studies the economics of the oceans, including fisheries, marine ecosystems, seafood markets, and coastal climate adaptation. He has written on a range of policy-relevant topics, including economics of marine reserves, seasonal closures in fisheries, ecosystem-based management, catch shares, nutrient pollution, aquaculture, genetically modified foods, the global seafood trade, organic agriculture, coastal property markets, and coastal responses to climate change. He is best known for id
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