Year of Graduation

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Major

Environmental Studies

Directing Professor

Renee Godard

Abstract

This study investigated the optimal harvest policy that would maximize the total social welfare of the Chesapeake Bay provided by oyster-related coastal activities, which involve trade-offs among different categories of values from ecosystem services, including food production, ecosystem regulation, and recreational and aesthetic uses. Adopting the oyster bioeconomic model developed from DePiper et al. (2017), this study incorporated the economic values from coastal uses including wild oyster harvesting, oyster farming, nitrogen removal services, and recreational activities using a benefit transfer approach. Simulation results from the optimization model suggested that the optimal path for the harvest rate of wild oyster populations should allow a population level to reach half of the carrying capacity. When the willingness to pay for recreation activities increases, the optimal allocation to shellfish aquaculture declines. This study discerned the key role of nitrogen credits, correct nitrogen pricing policy, and willingness to pay for recreational activities in restoring and maintaining the oyster populations.

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