National Marine Fisheries Service is considering closing a large area of federal waters to fishing in Alaska due to negative interactions of fishing with endangered Steller sea lions (due to capturing of seals in fishing gear and catch of the prey species of the sea lions by fishermen). In doing this, the closures are expected to displace 30 vessels from fishing in the Aleutian Islands, each of which made profits of $100,000 on an annual basis from fishing in these waters. Best estimates are that all 30 of these vessels will find employment in alternative fisheries, but these fisheries will be less profitable - yielding profits of only $50,000 per vessel each year.
a. Calculate the annual cost to the entire industry from the closures.
b. Assuming a 10 year planning horizon (t=1,...,10), calculate the present value of these costs using a discount rate of r=.03.
c. At the end of a 10 year period, it is estimated that the closures will result in a growth in the population of Steller sea lions of between 100 and 1000 individuals. Combining this information with your findings in part b, come up with a lower and upper bound on what the mean willingness to pay by society (in period 0 dollars) would need to be per sea lion to overcome these costs.
d. Suppose a stated preference study of non-use values reveals that the average American is willing to pay a sufficient amount such that when added up over the population, the willingness to pay per sea lion saved exceeds the upper bound you derived in part c. Is it necessarily the case that the fishery closure is justified on the grounds of economic efficiency? (Hint: What if there is a less costly way of achieving the same biological objective?)