An assessment of the non-market value of reducing the risk of marine pest incursions in Australia’s waters

​Kasia Mazur, Andrea Bath, Robert Curtotti and Rupert Summerson

Summary

The main objective of this project is to estimate and value the non-market environmental benefits to the community from reducing the risk of marine pest incursions in Australia’s waters. A non-market valuation method, choice modelling (CM), has been used.
The assessment is intended to support the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) effort to develop and implement a national approach to managing the biosecurity risk of biofouling in Australian waters and implement the International Marine Organisation (IMO) Ballast Water Management Convention.

Key findings

  • The Australian public places substantial value on the protection of the Australian environment from potential impacts of new marine pests.
  • Individual households sampled in this study were on average willing to pay $16.3 per year to protect one species and $9.3 per 250 km of coastal area and adjacent waters protected if there is a 50 per cent chance that the outcome will occur.
  • For Australia, it is estimated that households together are willing to pay between $22.0 million and $58.8 million to protect one species and $12.5 million and $33.4 million per 250 km of coastal area and adjacent waters protected if there is a 50 per cent chance that the outcome will occur.
  • The perceived benefits of preventive action increases with probability of success, with this study finding that respondents place higher values on scenarios providing more environmental benefits and higher certainty that the particular outcomes will occur.
  • Comparisons to prevention costs from other studies suggest reducing the risk of marine pest incursions would be likely to provide net benefit to the community, although each case should be assessed on its merits and specific circumstances.

[expand all]

Context

Non-indigenous marine species (NIMS) are plants and animals not native to Australia. These species can become invasive marine pests when established in non-native regions. Marine species are transported in a variety of ways, mostly through biofouling on submerged surfaces (accumulation of microorganisms, plants and animals) and ballast water (water carried by ships for stability).

To address the risk posed by NIMS the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is developing a regulatory approach to managing marine biosecurity risks posed by international vessel biofouling. The new regulatory approach for biofouling will complement measures recently introduced to reduce marine biosecurity risk from ballast water and sediment. The proposed biofouling regulation gives effect to the recommendations of the Review of National Marine Pest Biosecurity and is consistent with the direction set by the IMO.

More than 250 NIMS are currently present in Australia. When established in non-native environments, NIMS may become pests posing adverse effects on commercial fisheries, aquaculture, port infrastructure and the environment. Eradication of established marine pests is costly and has a low likelihood of success. Prevention and early detection are the most practical and least costly ways of management.

Identifying and assessing policies to prevent marine pests from arriving and establishing in Australia is challenging. Decision-makers need to consider different types of prevention methods, their likelihood of success, budgetary limitations and the relative costs and benefits of different prevention measures.

The economic benefits to industries of reducing the risk of marine pests arriving and establishing are relatively easy to identify but limited information is available about the potential environmental benefits of these actions. Environmental benefits include prevention of potential impacts of new marine pests on native species, coastline and adjacent waters, including reduction or loss of native species, loss of amenity value of the coast or recreational use.

Assessing these benefits is difficult because most environmental benefits are non-market in nature—that is, they are not traded in markets and have no price.

Methods and findings

As part of the non-market valuation study, a large-scale survey was undertaken in May and June 2017 that collected over 2,800 responses across Australia revealing people’s perceptions and views. The results indicate that the Australian public values policies that reduce the risk of new marine pests arriving and establishing in Australia. Respondents were willing to pay more under policy scenarios where more native species and coastline and adjacent waters were protected, especially policy interventions that have a higher probability of leading to these outcomes.

The annual values per Australian household and for Australia for the protection of coastal areas and native species from the impact of new marine pests are presented in Table 1 and Table 2. The study calculates a range of values for Australia, based on assumptions about the degree to which the survey sample is representative of the entire population. These values are presented at 20 per cent, 50 per cent and 80 per cent probability that policy interventions will lead to these outcomes.

Table 1 Annual values for protection of native species from marine pests, per household and for Australia

Probability of success

Per household for 1 species

Australia for 1 species

Australia for 1 species

  

Lower estimate a

Upper estimate b

20%

$6.5

$8.8 million

$23.5 million

50%

$16.3

$22.0 million

$58.8 million

80%

$26.1

$35.1 million

$94.1 million

Note: a – lower bound value: extrapolation of estimated household value to 16 per cent (response rate) of the Australian households; b – extrapolation of estimated household value to 43 per cent of Australian households.

Table 2 Annual values for protection of coastal areas

Probability of success

Per household for 250km

Australia for 250km

Australia for 250km

  

Lower estimate a

Upper estimate b

20%

$3.7

$5.0 million

$13.4 million

50%

$9.3

$12.5 million

$33.4 million

80%

$14.8

$19.9 million

$53. 5 million

Note: a – extrapolation of estimated household value to 16 per cent (response rate) of the Australian households; b – extrapolation of estimated household value to 43 per cent of Australian households.

The values in Table 1and Table 2 provide a basis for estimating the environmental benefits of management actions for the prevention of marine pest introductions for different scenarios and outcomes. The results suggest benefits arise from policies that reduce the chance of future incursions of marine pests. The values of environmental benefits estimated in this study together with other benefits (for example, avoided losses to impacted industries) can be compared with the cost of the policy or management actions that reduce the chance of these impacts occurring.

According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC 2011), the net present value of implementation of a national approach to biofouling is estimated to range from $146 million to $225 million (in 2016–17 dollars) for a 10-year period (an average of $14.6 million to $22.5 million per year). The estimates in this study of environmental benefits alone are higher than the cost of prevention estimated by PwC (2011). However, each case should be assessed to determine whether prevention is likely to be justified on cost–benefit grounds.

Policy implications

The estimated community values for protection of Australian environment through reduction of the risk of new marine pest incursions into Australian waters can be used to identify the management option that delivers the highest benefit to the society.

This project has not assessed the costs of alternative policy options to prevent incursion of marine pests. Nonetheless, the results from this study will help identify which policy option is likely to lead to the highest net benefit to the Australian community. Consideration of management actions should be informed by the environmental outcomes they can generate, the value of these outcomes to the community, and the relative likelihood of achieving these outcomes.

Download the full report

​​
Last reviewed:
24 Apr 2018