Economic Analysis of Fish Consumption Advisories
Paul M. Jakus
Abstract.—As top predators, striped bass Morone saxatilis and their hybrids often accumulate pollutants and prompt recommendations for reduced consumption. Economists have estimated the economic effect of fish consumption advisories on anglers using nonmarket valuation techniques. Following a brief discussion of advisories policy in the United States and the theoretical underpinning for estimating economic losses they may cause, I contrast estimates of economic loss (consumer surplus) with measures of economic impact. In a comprehensive review of the economic costs of advisories in freshwater fisheries, I found that economists have focused almost exclusively on only the most extreme of angler’s responses. These were changing the sites at which an angler fishes or changing the number of fishing trips during the season (ignoring losses associated with behavioral responses, such as changing target species, engaging in more careful food preparation, or strictly complying with recommended consumption limits). For decision makers needing to conduct benefit-cost analysis of an advisory policy but lacking the time or budget needed for an original study, I outline the method of benefit transfer. The paper concludes with a number of research topics not yet considered by economists: behavioral responses to advisories besides adjusting the site or number of trips, heterogeneity among anglers’ preferences, and the effect of differences in perceived risk of consuming contaminated fish.