Cost-Benefit Analysis of Public Law 99-625:
Sea Otter-Shellfishery Conflicts in
Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties
Kim Aldrich, Joshua Curtis, Samuel Drucker
A Masters Project for the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California, Santa Barbara
The goal of this analysis is to provide a management tool for employment within the policymaking framework of Public Law 99-625.
Conflicts between fisheries and marine mammals are becoming more frequent. This includes increasing discord between federal and state protection of the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) and shellfisheries in California. Congress enacted Public Law 99-625 (P.L. 99-625) in 1986 in an effort to provide the threatened sea otters with a safeguard from catastrophic oil spills and limit conflict with fisheries. This study examined the economic impact of the southern sea otter with and without enforcement of P.L. 99-625. The focus area of this report is Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, and considers projected impacts from 2001 to 2025.
A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) was performed to determine the most economically efficient of two policy alternatives: (1) containment and translocation of sea otters under Public Law 99-625 or (2) natural sea otter range expansion with no translocation. We first modeled sea otter expansion through 2025. We then estimated value-added benefits from tourism using a hedonic regression analysis. We calculated lost profit from local shellfisheries as zero because the fisheries are effectively open-access. The economically efficient policy alternative is natural sea otter range expansion and no translocation. This finding holds up even when we assume lost fisheries income to Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
At median population projections, management costs for continuous removal of otters from the management zone would be approximately $1,042,000 over the next 25 years while benefits from tourism, in the absence of translocation, would be approximately $114,800,000.
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