Americans Would Pay More To Support Biodiversity

2016-03-10T17:00:03+00:00 March 10, 2016|
Photo credit: NOAA

(Click to enlarge) Photo credit: NOAA

Most Americans are willing to pay more taxes to support biodiversity conservation in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a national survey conducted by researchers at Duke University and the University of Virginia.

(From ScienceDaily) — The survey polled respondents in more than 1,500 households about their willingness to help pay for a proposed expansion of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northern gulf near the Texas-Louisiana border.

“Most households are willing to pay more annually, even with the understanding that only hook-and-line fishing would be allowed within the expanded sanctuary and oil and gas activity would be restricted there,” said Stephanie F. Stefanski, a PhD student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the survey.

The remote sanctuary, situated more than 70 miles off the coast, protects a string of reefs that sit atop underwater mountains called salt domes. The reefs are home to hundreds of marine species, including sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and threatened species of corals.

Three banks, or reefs, are currently located within the sanctuary’s boundaries. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which administers the site, has proposed expanding all three reefs’ boundaries as well as extending the sanctuary to include nine additional banks nearby.

To quantify the extent to which most taxpayers would be willing to underwrite future costs of the expansion, the researchers conducted a national online study in 2012 that asked respondents to respond yes or no to a dollar value — ranging from $4 to $80 a year — that they would be willing to pay to support management of the expanded sanctuary.

Then, by adding a sliding scale question, the survey determined the range that people were willing to pay is $35 to $107 more.

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