Linking social preferences and ocean acidification impacts in mussel aquaculture

Ocean Acidification (OA) has become one of the most studied global stressors in marine science during the last fifteen years. Despite the variety of studies on the biological effects of OA with marine commercial species, estimations of these impacts over consumers’ preferences have not been studied in detail, compromising our ability to undertake an assessment of market and economic impacts resulting from OA at local scales. Here, we use a novel and interdisciplinary approach to fill this gap. We experimentally test the impact of OA on commercially relevant physical and nutritional attributes of mussels, and then we use economic discrete choice models to assess the marginal effects of these impacts over consumers’ preferences and wellbeing. Results showed that attributes, which were significantly affected by OA, are also those preferred by consumers. Consumers are willing to pay on average 52% less for mussels with evidences of OA and are willing to increase the price they pay to avoid negative changes in attributes due to OA. The interdisciplinary approach developed here, complements research conducted on OA by effectively informing how OA economic impacts can be analyzed under the lens of marginal changes in market price and consumer’ welfare. Thereby, linking global phenomena to consumers’ wellbeing, and shifting the focus of OA impacts to assess the effects of local vulnerabilities in a wider context of people and businesses.

San Martin V. A., Gelcich S., Lavín F. V., Ponce Oliva R. D., Hernández J. I., Lagos N. A., Birchenough S. N. R. & Vargas C. A., 2019. Linking social preferences and ocean acidification impacts in mussel aquaculture. Scientific Reports 9: 4719. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41104-5. Article.

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