Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-15-2007


Ocean and coastal areas of the United States contribute significantly to our nation’s overall economy. The extent to which our economy benefits from the wide range of marine and coastal activities is not completely understood. The National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP) has attempted to track and value the ocean and coastal- related economic activities in the United States. To date six sectors are included in its information system ( The economic contribution of marine research and education institutions is a sector of activity that lies outside of the normal federal government datasets, but one which seemed to have growing importance and yet was not considered part of the economy. Thus, the NOEP decided to add marine science and education institutions to its sector studies. The goal of this project was to create a prototype strategy at a local level, which could then be adapted for collecting national level data on a state by state basis. This economic sector of institutions and their activities would be comparable to other economic sectors for which the federal government already collects data. The purposes of this project were (1) to select the key indicators that could demonstrate the value of these institutions, and (2) to determine the economic contribution of these institutions to the local, state, and national economies. In order to achieve these purposes, we constructed a survey, tested it at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and then distributed it to the marine research and education institutions of Monterey Bay Crescent. The results of the survey are presented as aggregate information that detail important economic contributions to the region such as: annual budgets, employment figures, annual earned wages, number of students, sources of funding, and distribution of research spending. A summary of the results shows that the combined annual budgets of the marine research and education institutions in Monterey Bay Crescent for 2006 were over $209 million. There were over 1,700 employees within those institutions with wages totaling nearly $78 million. The four institutions of higher education included in the survey served 861 students studying ocean sciences and ocean policy. Distribution of funding sources among all institutions surveyed, according to the survey was Federal Government funds at 46% and foundation funds at 35% of the overall research budgets that support these institutions. Research activities focused on coastal processes and on biodiversity had the largest amount of funding, while climate change and marine policy research had the least funding. These results are a window into a growing sector of activities with increasing importance, and begin to fill the void of economic data on the contribution of marine research and education institutions.


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