Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 503–523 | Cite as

Why do People Care about Sea Lions? A Fishing Game to Study the Value of Endangered Species



Previous research proposes that human beings are motivated to protect endangered species for various reasons: consumptive use value, non-consumptive use value, non-use value, and intrinsic value. However, it has been difficult to tease apart these values at the behavioral level. Using an innovative fishing game, we study an important tradeoff between one kind of use value (monetary value) and one kind of non-use value (existence value) of the endangered Steller sea lion. In the fishing game, players make repeated decisions on how much pollock to harvest for profit in each period in a dynamic ecosystem. The population of the endangered sea lion depends on the population of pollock, which in turn depends on the harvesting behavior of humans. The data show that in general, people responded to the financial value (as a tourist resource), but not the existence value, of the sea lion by cutting down commercial fish harvesting to keep more sea lions in the ecosystem. However, not all people behaved the same regarding the existence value. Females displayed a higher existence value than males, as did people who reported stronger pro-environmental attitudes than those with weaker pro-environmental attitudes. Our findings have multiple implications on public opinion elicitation and public policy design.


Endangered species Valuation Behavior economics  Fishery game Resource management 


  1. Allman ES, Rhodes JA (2004) Mathematical models in biology: an introduction. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbier EB, Burgess JC, Folke C (1994) Paradise lost? The ecological economics of biodiversity. Earthscan Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbier EB (2011) Pricing nature. Ann Rev Resour Econ 3:337–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Callicot JB (2006) Explicit and implicit values. In: Scott JM, Goble DD, Davis FW (eds) The endangered species act at thirty: conserving biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes, 2nd edn. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  5. Daily GC (1997) Nature’s services: societal dependence on ecosystem services. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  6. Dunlap RE, LiereKD Van (2000) Measuring endorsement of the new ecological paradigm: a revised NEP scale. J Soc Issues 56(3):425–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. European Commission (2007) Attitudes of Europeans towards the issue of biodiversity. In: Flash Eurobarometer Report no. 219. Gallup Organization. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_290_en.pdf. Cited 27 Feb 2012
  8. Finnoff D, Tschirhart JT (2003) Harvesting in an eight-species ecosystem. J Environ Econ Manag 45:589–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Finnoff D, GongM Tschirhart JT (2012) Perspectives on ecosystem based management for delivering ecosystem services with an example from an eighteen-species marine mode. Int Rev Environ Resour Econ 6(1): 79–118Google Scholar
  10. Freeman AM (2003) The measurement of environmental and resource values: theory and methods, 2nd edn. Resources for the Future, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  11. Gifford R, Hay R, Boros K (1982) Individual differences in environmental attitudes. J Environ Educ 14:19–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gong M, Aadland D (2011) Interview effects in an environmental valuation telephone survey. Environ Resour Econ 49(1):47–64Google Scholar
  13. Heal GM (2000) Nature and the marketplace. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  14. Hunter LM, Johnson A, Hatch A (2004) Cross-national gender variation in environmental behaviors. Soc Sci Q 85(3):677–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Naeem S, Li S (1997) Biodiversity enhances ecosystem reliability. Nature 390:507–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rasinski KA, Smith TW, Zuckerbraun S (1994) Fairness motivations and tradeoffs underlying public support for government environmental spending in nine nations. J Soc Issues 50:179–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rausser G, Small A (2000) Valuing research leads: bioprospecting and the conservation of genetic resources. J Polit Econ 108(1):173–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Simpson D, Sedjo R, Reid J (1996) Valuing biodiversity for use in pharmaceuticalresearch. J Polit Econ 104(1):163–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Swanson TM, Barbier EB (eds) (1992) Economics for the wilds: wildlife, wildlands, diversity and development. Earthscan Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Tilman D, Lehman CL, Bristow CE (1998) Diversity-stability relationships: statistical inevitability or ecological consequence. Am Nat 151:277–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zelezny LC, Chua P-P, Aldrich C (2000) Elaborating on gender differences in environmentalism. J Soc Issues 56:443–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AltisourceWinston SalemUSA
  2. 2.Columbia University, Center for Research on Environmental DecisionsNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations