Economic Value and Governance of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services (Microeconomics)
Research | 19 January 2016 Economic Value and Governance of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services (Microeconomics)

Addressing two cases in Peniche-Nazaré area – sustainable sardine fishery and the impact of giant waves on local economy | Researcher: Antonieta Cunha-e-Sá

The Peniche-Nazaré area is located in the West Coast of Portugal and is characterized by a variety of marine ecosystems, which provide many ecosystem services, supporting the most important local economic activities.

This area was selected as the study site for an interdisciplinary research project coordinated by Nova SBE’s Professor Antonieta Cunha-e-Sá in partnership with University of Aveiro (CESAM).

The fishing sector plays a crucial role in the local economy. Peniche and Nazaré are old fishing communities dedicated to harvesting small pelagic species, in particular, sardines, chub-mackerel, and horse-mackerel. However, while the local economy is facing the threat of an increasingly depleted stock of sardines, the most important species harvested, the site is now a popular touristic destination related to surf. Therefore, significant undergoing economic and ecosystem changes are taking place, representing major societal challenges, and requiring the adaptation of local communities. By assessing and quantifying some of those impacts, the researchers aim to contribute to provide guidance for policy purposes.

In this text, only two cases are addressed:
(i) the sustainable management of the Ibero- Atlantic sardine fishery and
(ii) the search for a trademark related to the giant waves to attract increasing touristic demand to Nazaré. 

Sustainable management of the Ibero- Atlantic sardine fishery

(i)The Iberian-Atlantic stock of sardine is distributed along the continental shelf. However, since 2006, there is evidence that the southern part of the Iberian-Atlantic sardine stock, which is shared by Portugal and Spain, is decreasing significantly due to persistent low recruitment. The highly depleted stock is putting at risk fisheries in the region, with negative consequences to the local economy given the dependence of those communities on that activity. To deal with this problem a sardine fishery management plan was established for the period 2012-2015. This plan defined annual quotas for Portugal and Spain according to a harvest control rule, whose main goal was the recovery of the stock to levels above 307 kt by 2015. However, since recent assessments reveal that the current stock is still at low historical levels, the expected definition of very low quota levels will impose high costs on the fishing sector, contributing to an increasing hostility of fishermen toward the current policy. It is in this context that a new regulatory framework will have to be defined. This new regulatory framework should therefore rely not only on solid ecological tools but also should explicitly take into account sustainability issues and the interests of the main stakeholders.

Building upon Tahvonen et al. (2013), the researchers contribute to such effort by developing a bio-economic model for the Ibero-Atlantic Sardine Fishery, thus allowing for comparison between harvesting paths resulting from different current/future regulations. In addition, the model will also be used to accommodate for different precautionary objectives for the sardine stock, providing extraction paths that explicitly take into account both economic and ecological objectives. 

Search for a trademark related to the giant waves to attract increasing touristic demand to Nazaré

(ii) This study estimates the economic impact of the media campaign launched in 2010 in Nazaré that made big waves of Praia do Norte visible to the world. Using data on domestic and international tourist arrivals in Nazaré for 2004-2014, the researchers apply counterfactual analysis to construct different control scenarios, thus, not affected by the policy intervention (media campaign). Depending on the scenario, the total estimated impact of the “Big Waves” (big waves and three-year media campaign) for 2011-2014 ranges, on average, between 27.8% and 41% of the total revenue of hotel establishments. This impact in the tourism sector is approximately equivalent to one quarter of the value added of the fishing sector in the region. Thus, the investment in the media campaign has provided the required “informational infrastructure” that made possible the recognition of the value of big waves with significant impact on the local economy.

About the project

This research work is part of an interdisciplinary project with University of Aveiro (CESAM - Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies) sponsored by the Gulbenkian Foundation (Gulbenkian Ocean´s Initiative) and it is expected to contribute to Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services (MCES) valuations. Besides the two studies described it also includes a survey to assess stakeholders’ perceptions on the value of MCES at the study site, the estimation of the economic potential value of offshore renewable energy sources in the area classified with high natural potential, and, finally, a risk assessment analysis of human pressures on habitats’ potential to deliver ecosystem services at the study site.
Other members of the Nova SBE research team in this project are: Luis Catela Nunes, Renato Rosa, Rui Mota, Vladimir Otrachshenko, Ana Lopes, Margarida Ortigão, Rita Freitas, Tiago Costa and Tom Willaert.

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