Why socio-economics matters in the marine and coastal

Chris Williams
New Economics Foundation

T: 0207 820 6404
E: chris.williams@neweconomics.org

About NEF and our work on the marine environment: NEF is a leading UK think tank driving change towards a sustainable economy that delivers human wellbeing, social justice and environmental sustainability. NEF’s environment programme demonstrates that managing natural resources in a sustainable way is good for the economy and good for people. Fundamentally, our economic stability depends on a healthy environment. However, the economic crisis has revived the idea that protecting the environment is a luxury we cannot afford. In fact, the natural environment offers many solutions to the present crisis. From fish stocks to rainforests, properly managed ecosystems are valuable resources that can offer stable and sustainable economic benefits.

We drive change through the strength of our research and campaigning with others to take practical action. Over the past years NEF has strengthened its role as an organisation that helps other NGOs and civil society groups deliver their mission more effectively by:

  • Increasing their economic literacy (i.e. training in economics): NEF coordinates the Marine Socio-Economics Project which aims to strengthen the economic capacity of UK Marine NGOs. The project is run in partnership with WWF-UK, RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and the Wildlife Trusts. Outputs of this project (provided below) have been adapted to other geographical context and audiences (i.e. Portuguese marine conservation NGOs).
  • Generating economic based evidence to support policy and advocacy work: through our ‘Economics for fair and sustainable fisheries’ project we have generated – and communicated – new evidence to support change towards a fair, sustainable fisheries management in the EU. This has included providing evidence to shape the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and a new bio-economic model for EU fleets (The BEMEF model – details below).
  • Mentoring organisations to question their effectiveness and improve their strategies through the New Economy Organisers Network (NEON) a platform of civil society organisations set up by NEF in 2012. http://www.neweconomics.org/teams/entry/the-great-transition
    Below we provide a summary of our current projects relevant to marine economics.
  • The Marine Socio Economics Project (MSEP)

This project has the double objective to enhance and build the capacity of marine NGOs to use socio-economic knowledge, tools and information to deliver marine biodiversity conservation objectives; and, to encourage better coordination between marine environment actors. The MSEP began in December 2011 in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, WWF-UK and the Wildlife Trusts.

Since 2012, we produced several training materials including a series of briefings on economics in policy making, and a series of facts and figures about marine industries (energy, fisheries, aquaculture, and infrastructure). We have also run two workshops per year (all links to MSEP outputs are provided in Annex 1 at the end). In 2012, the workshops focussed on Impact Assessments (IAs) and included Defra and Natural England economists explaining the IA process. In 2013, we focussed on Theory of Change and economic valuation techniques. The workshops for 2014 focussed on the debate around nature valuation (a paper will be forthcoming on the issue) and understanding the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The last workshop included representatives from port authorities, Defra, IFCAs, Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), aquaculture businesses, NUTFA and other fisheries stakeholders.

Sign up to the MSEP Newsletter here: http://www.mseproject.net/newsletter 
Contact: Chris.williams@neweconomics.org

  • Economics for fair and sustainable fisheries

This project has the ultimate goal to drive change towards fairer and more sustainable fisheries management in Europe. The first phase of s project (2011-14) focused on the reform of the CFP. The second phase (2014-17) revolves around the implementation of the new CFP.

The change we want to see:

  • Healthier marine ecosystems with fish stocks at bMSY by 2022
  • An even-playing field for the fishing fleet within countries and between countries:Quota allocated to fishermen that deliver best value (economic-social-environmental)
  • Funding directed towards fishing activity that delivers best value to society
  • An even-playing field for consumers and producers:
  • Consumers do not have to “pay more” for sustainable fisheries products
  • Lower financial risk for businesses that produce sustainably

Our peer-reviewed research has demonstrated that restoring fish stocks makes economic sense and benefits consumers, industry and society as a whole.
Highlights include:

  • Jobs Lost at Sea estimated that letting fish populations grow to their maximum sustainable yield could deliver an additional amount of fish equivalent to feed 160 million EU citizens a year and additional revenue of £2,700 million per year which could support 100,000 jobs
  • No Catch Investment showed that the investment needed to restore EU fish stocks could be recovered in just five years, thereafter delivering positive returns of up to £14 for every £1 invested

Key Facts:

  • Restoring 43 EU stocks would generate an additional 3.5 million tonnes more landed fish each year
  • This would lead to £2.7bn additional annual revenues and 100,000 new job
  • The UK fishing industry threw away £1bn-worth of cod as discards between 1963 and 2000

These findings helped shift the focus of EU fisheries policy debate from costs (i.e. catch less now to have more in the future) to benefits (i.e. rents and employment potential). The evidence and figures generated allowed other organisations and decision-makers to think of sustainable fisheries as an opportunity for job creation and profitable investment rather than just as an environmental principle.

Contact: Aniol.esteban@neweconomics.org

  • NEFs Bio-economic model of European Fleets (BEMEF)     (to be launched in January 2015)

The Bio-economic Model of European Fleets (BEMEF) is a tool designed to visualise the economic impacts from fish stock restoration and quota re-allocation. For fleets where adequate data is available, BEMEF calculates current and future economic outputs including profitability, wages, and jobs.

The model will be launched publicly in February 2015 at (www.fisheriesmodel.org). Users will be able to obtain results by type of fleet and country for different scenarios of fish stock restoration and allocation of quota according to social and environmental criteria. They will also have the option to change the model parameters such as job calculation methods, changes in fish price flexibility, and changes in oil prices.

The BEMEF model was developed in close collaboration with a number of partners across Europe and is designed to be open and accessible to all interested users and stakeholders. 
Contact: Griffin.carpenter@neweconomics.org.

  • Blue New Deal – good jobs for coastal communities

This project aims at delivering long-term jobs for coastal communities through a healthier coastal and marine environment. During its first year (2014) we have analysed the challenges that UK coastal communities face; and analysed the potential of the coastal and marine environment to address them. We have also looked at UK public perceptions around marine conservation and the role the media plays in shaping and reflecting these perceptions.

We will release a vision for thriving coastal communities in March 2015. We hope this vision will be supported by a broad base of coastal actors including businesses, councils and civil society organisations and the wider communities.

Contact: Fernanda.balata@neweconomics.org

ECONOMICS IN POLICY MAKING – 11 BRIEFINGS: NEF’s complete economics briefings are online and can be downloaded here.

  • Briefing 1 – An overview of economics
  • Briefing 2 –  How economics is used in government decision-making
  • Briefing 3 – Valuing the environment in economic terms
  • Briefing 4 – Social cost-benefit analysis and social return on investment
Briefing 5 – Discounting and time preferences
  • Briefing 6 – Multi-criteria analysis
  • Briefing 7 – Beyond GDP: Valuing what matters and measuring natural capital
  • Briefing 8 – Markets, market failure and regulation
  • Briefing 9a – Finance and money: the basics
  • Briefing 9b – What’s wrong with our financial system?
  • Briefing 10 – Property rights and ownership models
  • Briefing 11 – Behavioural economics – dispelling the myths

The marine / fisheries case studies supporting the briefings are available here.

FACTS AND FIGURES: The MSEP ‘facts and figures’ series 1-5 are available from the MSEP website here.

  • Series 1, on ‘Wild capture fisheries in the UK’
  • Series 2 on ‘Marine Energy’
  • Series 3 on ‘Marine Infrastructure’
  • Series 4 on ‘Marine Recreation’
  • Series 5 on ‘Fisheries Flows and Aquaculture’

A series of powerpoint presentations with graphs which MSEP partners can use is available on the slideshare page here.