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Valuation of Fish Production Services in River Basins: A Case Study of the Columbia River

April 05, 2017 |

This paper was originally published on Elsevier


  • A bio-economic model for valuing fish production services in large river systems.
  • Model is applied to salmon production in the Columbia River, USA.
  • Multiple ecosystem services are assessed.
  • Prioritizing salmon conservation improves benefits by over $8 million/yr.
  • Recreational fishing is the most economically valuable ecosystem service assessed.
  • Gains in economic welfare from fish production may not be fully exploited.

“Abstract: This study uses a bio-economic model to assess the capacity of the Columbia River to provide a selection of four ecosystem services and estimates the actual use of those services in terms of net economic welfare. Our findings reinforce the observation that Columbia River habitat supports production of valuable fish species that provide: (i) food production from commercial fishing, (ii) recreational fishing, (iii) tribal subsistence fishing, and (iv) nutrient cycling services.

Relative to the status quo, a 10% greater prioritization of salmon conservation via shifts in the flow regime would generate an increase of $4.8 million/yr in the net economic benefit from these services. A return to pristine flow conditions would raise this value to $19.5 million/yr. Re-prioritizing hydropower production to average 1976–1980 flow levels would result in a $3.5 million/yr loss of net economic benefits.

Recreational fishing is the most important ecosystem service we assessed. Under some scenarios, this sector generates twice the value of the next largest sector (commercial fishing). Although managers have placed greater emphasis on fish conservation in recent decades, opportunities for gains in economic welfare from fish production in the Columbia River may not be fully exploited, particularly considering that our conservation scenario only minimally alters the flow regime relative to the hydropower priority scenario…”

Read on and access the paper at: Elsevier.

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