Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

Special Issue on the Economics of Changing Coastal Resources: The Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems

Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

Special Issue on the Economics of Changing Coastal Resources: The Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems

Article excerpt

Viewed through the perspective of the nexus of food, energy, and water systems, improved management of coastal resources requires enhanced understanding of cross-system and cross-scale interactions and dynamics. The economics of changing coastal resources hinges on increased understanding of complex tradeoffs associated with these complex multisystem and multiscale relationships. How diverse forms of change will affect water quantity and quality as well as food and energy production in coastal areas is not well understood.

Coastal resources provide many goods and services and influence markedly the nature of many human communities. In 2010, 43 percent of the US population lived in marine coastal counties (US Census 2012), and from 1960 to 2010, the population of these counties increased by 87 percent, faster than the rest of the United States (62 percent). In addition to serving as attractive settlement locations, coastal areas provide critical ecosystem services, including critical habitat for commercially important species in some cases (Gutman 2007, Kroll et al. 2012, Hales et al. 2014). Abundant natural resource amenities also provide valuable recreation and tourism experiences (Hales et al. 2014). Further, new economic opportunities also exist in coastal areas, with many recent examples of emerging products (Barros et al. 2009), innovative seafood technologies (Ayer and Tyedmers 2009, Bugallo et al. 2013), and potential biomedical compounds of different macroalgae (Shekhar et al. 2012) and bivalves (Newell, Ma, and Doyle 2012).

Nonetheless, the feasibility and desirability of providing different services and the interactions among different resource allocation decisions are not evident. Coastal areas are vulnerable to economic (e.g., recessions, energy prices, infrastructure), social (e.g., income inequality, gentrification) and environmental (e.g., climate change, new marine diseases, invasive species) shifts. In some instances, population and housing growth have placed increased burdens on coastal communities, including displacement of small businesses, workers, and communities focused on seafood production and lost working waterfronts (NOAA 2012a) - resources which are important to local economies (NOAA 2012b) and support local and regional food security. In other cases, economic stress induced by depletion of commercial fisheries has revealed the downside of extreme dependency on particular species or sectors.

Community threats and shocks can come in many forms, and the impacts of change will depend upon many different factors. Although there is a rich literature on the effects of climate change on marine coastal communities, almost all of these studies focus on non-US communities (e.g., Badjeck 2008, Chouinard, Plante, and Martin 2008, Crona et al. 2010, Race, Luck and Black 2010, Silver 2013, Abernethy et al. 2014, Orchard, Stringer and Quinn 2014). Transferring these results to US-based communities is problematic because community resilience and adaptability is place dependent (Storbjörk and Hedrén 2011, Johnson, Henry, and Thompson 2014, Dawley et al. 2015).

Coastal areas can play a key role in efforts to advance our nation's food, water, and energy security. The knowledge base needed to understand how diverse forms of change will affect food and energy production in coastal areas and how best to increase the resilience of these areas is relatively lower compared to other communities (Akinwale 2011, Camill et al. 2012, Switzer et al. 2012). Economic science that spurs greater understanding of changing coastal resources and communities, and inspires innovative technological and social solutions to address change and take advantage of opportunities in the face of change, offers great promise to these diverse areas (Hart and Bell 2013).

Contributions in This Special Issue

The papers in this special issue were presented at the Northeast Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (NAREA) 2016 Workshop on the Economics of Changing Coastal Resources: The Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems. …

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