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Controlling an Invasive Species through Consumption: Private and Public Values of Eating Lionfish

William L. Huth, David McEvoy () and Ash Morgan ()

No 16-05, Working Papers from Department of Economics, Appalachian State University

Abstract: The rapidly growing population of lionfish – an invasive species in the United States and Caribbean waters – is stressing the already fragile coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and is threatening local commercial and recreational fisheries. One potential strategy of controlling population growth is through consumption, which has direct private benefits but also contributes to the broader public good of invasive species management. The viability of this strategy depends in part on the values consumers place on eating lionfish. As an established market for lionfish does not yet exist, we estimate consumers’ valuation for eating lionfish using framed-field experiments. Our design allows us to separate consumers’ direct private value with their indirect public value of helping to control population growth. Without information about the invasive nature of lionfish and the need for population control, consumers, on average, are willing to pay $6.28 for a three-ounce prepared fillet. The average bid increases by $0.71 when consumers learn about the harmful impacts lionfish have on the environment and that consuming them can help curb population growth. Finally, the average bid increases by $1.66 when consumers also learn about the possibility of localized extinction of valuable commercial species if the lionfish population is left unchecked. Key Words:

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-env
Date: 2016, Revised 2016
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