In America and across the world, the use of ecosystem-based management is
increasing. One of the primary challenges faced in using this method of management is the integration of economic data and environmental information. This report explores the use of a new tool for integrating economic data, ecosystem-based economic indicators, in a case study of Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, an estuarine environment located in Monterey County, CA. Research and literature reviews were used to detail the economic activities of the area, in order to identify possible indicators,criteria for evaluating the indicators, and potential sources of indicator data. After evaluating ten candidate datasets, four datasets were collected: 1) the cost of dredging the slough to Moss Landing Harbor, 2) the volume of dredged material removed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, 3) the weight of fish landed by commercial fishers in the Moss Landing area, and 4) the number commercial passenger fishing vessel participants. These datasets were used to establish a baseline of relevant economic activity and to explore trends in these economic activities over time. The economic indicators were then compared with ecological indicators from similar time periods. The comparisons were used to assess whether changes in economic activity could be correlated to changes in ecological conditions. Visual observation revealed possible links between 1) the average annual turbidity and volume of dredged material removed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, 2) annual maximum turbidity value and the cost of dredging to Moss Landing Harbor, 3) the annual frequency of hypoxic conditions and the weight of fish landed by commercial fishers in the Moss Landing area, and 4) the annual frequency of hypoxic conditions and the number of commercial passenger fishing vessel participants. Although preliminary in nature, conclusions indicate that ecosystem-based economic indicators will help the managers of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve to establish baselines of economic activity and to predict changes in this activity as a result of an ecological policy change.
Norris, Scott, "Identifying Economic Indicators for Ecosystem-Based Management:" (2006). Publications. 13.