The Puget Sound estuary provides one of the most valuable shellfish habitats in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Shellfish are important economically, ecologically, and socially to the Puget Sound basin. The State of Washington manages the safety of shellfish harvest areas by assessing water quality on an ongoing basis and instituting advisories and closures based on water quality thresholds. Managers currently have little information to understand the effect of these closures on harvesting effort or economic values. In order to address this important need, we recently conducted a contingent behavior survey of recreational shellfish harvesters that use Puget Sound beaches. The survey elicited the number of annual trips respondents would expect to take under alternative closure scenarios, including a baseline of no closure. We estimate the demand for recreational trips using a count model system, quantifying the economic value lost to harvesters when beaches are closed due to pollution or biotoxins.
JEL Codes: Q53, Q26.