Date of Award

1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Resource Economics

Department

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics

First Advisor

Jon G. Sutinen

Abstract

This research aims to determine the best uses of mangrove areas, with special emphasis on the shrimp mariculture industry in Ecuador. Traditionally, mangrove areas have been considered useless resources with no economic value except through development. Consequent conversion or exploitation of mangrove areas for urban infrastructural development, agricultural development and, more recently, shrimp mariculture has been taking place in several developing countries. The growing concern for the environment and sustainable development has stressed the multiple-use nature of mangrove areas and the associated trade-offs of their use. Mangrove ecosystems are being increasingly recognized as important renewable resources capable of producing not only goods and services, but also of providing important natural ecological functions. Economic value may then be associated with mangroves in their natural state.

The centerpiece of this work is a formal model integrating biotechnical, ecological, economic, and policy factors to determine the characteristics of the economic activities competing for the use of mangrove areas. The competing economic activities included are shrimp mariculture, mangrove forestry and coastal artisanal fisheries. A simple measure of benefits derived from natural ecological functions performed by mangrove areas is also considered. Standard concepts of natural and environmental resource economics, biological population dynamics and management strategies are combined to determine net social benefits generated by alternative uses of mangrove areas. A multi-sector, dynamic bioeconomic model is developed to determine the optimal intertemporal allocation of mangrove areas among the four alternative activities. The model is used to calculate present values of net benefits under four alternative management strategies. The results support a set of policy recommendations for management coastal resources in Ecuador.

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