Twenty thousand sterling under the sea: Estimating the value of protecting deep-sea biodiversity

Niels Jobstvogt*, Nick Hanley, Stephen Hynes, Jasper Kenter, Ursula Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


The deep-sea includes over 90% of the world's oceans and is thought to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. It supplies society with valuable ecosystem services, including the provision of food, the regeneration of nutrients and the sequestration of carbon. Technological advancements in the second half of the 20th century made large-scale exploitation of mineral, hydrocarbon and fish resources possible. These economic activities, combined with climate change impacts, constitute a considerable threat to deep-sea biodiversity. Many governments, including that of the UK, have therefore decided to implement additional protected areas in their waters of national jurisdiction. To support the decision process and to improve our understanding for the acceptance of marine conservation plans across the general public, a choice experiment survey asked Scottish households for their willingness-to-pay for additional marine protected areas in the Scottish deep-sea. This study is one of the first to use valuation methodologies to investigate public preferences for the protection of deep-sea ecosystems. The experiment focused on the elicitation of economic values for two aspects of marine biodiversity: (i) the existence value for deep-sea species and (ii) the option value of deep-sea organisms as a source for future medicinal products. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date17 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

This work received funding from the MASTS pooling initiative (The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland) and their support is gratefully acknowledged. MASTS is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011) and contributing institutions. We are deeply thankful for the critical feedback that we received from many individuals over the course of the survey testing phase. In particular we like to thank Mirko Moro, Dugald Tinch and Neil Odam at the Stirling Economics Department for their invaluable input on survey and experimental design. Two referees provided valuable feedback on earlier versions of this paper.


  • Deep-sea biodiversity
  • Economic value
  • Marine protected areas
  • Choice experiment
  • Option value
  • Existence value


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