|Abstract or Summary
- Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a process that planners can use to make decisions about different, sometimes conflicting, ocean uses. The process is intended to be participatory and to facilitate the sharing of information about multiple uses of the marine environment. In the U.S. an important component of MSP is the development of marine plans for nine coastal and marine regions, including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Great Lakes, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, West Coast, Pacific Islands, and Alaska/Arctic. Plans are developed by and for each region, and provide “information about specific issues, resources, or areas of interest to better inform existing [or future] management measures.” This paper contributes to the information needs of MSP on the West Coast by examining public preferences for different marine protected area (MPA) designs sited in West Coast federal waters. Using data from over 3,000 randomly selected households in California, Oregon, and Washington we estimate choice models and calculate economic values (willingness-to-pay) for a suite of different size-use MPA configurations. Our results show that designating ~15.6% of west coast Federal waters as a mixed-use MPA yields the highest economic value. Results also underscore the significance of the use regime allowed within MPA boundaries, demonstrating considerably different threshold sizes above which diminishing returns and negative economic values are derived from no-access, no-take, and limited use MPAs. Our results should be useful for MSP planners desiring stakeholder input on marine conservation and managing the multiple uses of the open ocean.