Towards an ecosystem approach for understanding public values concerning marine biodiversity loss

Adriana Ressurreição*, Tomasz Zarzycki, Michel Kaiser, Gareth Edwards-Jones, Tomaz Ponce Dentinho, Ricardo S. Santos, James Gibbons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Recent European legislation requires the adoption of an ecosystem-based approach for managing marine systems in which societal values and good science contribute to attainment of 'good environmental status' for Europe's seas by 2020. At present, there is a lack of studies that consider public values for marine biodiversity changes taking into account the cultural diversity within Europe. We used a contingent valuation survey to explore respondents' marginal willingness to pay (WTP) and motivations to prevent 3 levels of species loss (10, 25 and 50%) as compared to current levels for fish and all marine species. The survey was undertaken in 2 sites: the Azores islands (NE Atlantic) and the Gulf of Gdansk (Baltic Sea). Results, based on 747 interviews, showed that motivations underlying WTP for marine species conservation encompassed primarily bequest values and direct use values. Respondents from different locations differed in their attitudes and values towards marine biodiversity conservation. Scope tests revealed significant differences in WTP for different levels of species loss; however the magnitudes of the scope sensitivity were constrained by a lack of awareness about the consequences of biodiversity changes and the welfare tradeoffs involved. This result highlights the need for the scientific community to better communicate knowledge about the link between biodiversity changes and human wellbeing and to embrace a fuller dialogue between policymakers and the public. A successful ecosystem based approach must accommodate the diversity of preferences and hence may need to be adapted to reflect regional diversity within Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2012


  • Contingent valuation
  • Cultural diversity
  • Marginal values
  • Marine biodiversity changes
  • Payment card
  • Scope sensitivity
  • Species loss
  • Willingness to pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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