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Elicited preferences for components of ocean health in the California Current

Halpern, Benjamin S and Longo, Catherine and McLeod, Karen L and Cooke, Roger and Fischhoff, Baruch and Samhouri, Jameal F and Scarborough, Courtney (2013) Elicited preferences for components of ocean health in the California Current. Marine Policy, 42. pp. 68-73.

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Abstract

As resource management efforts move towards more comprehensive approaches that span multiple sectors and stakeholder groups, decision makers are faced with the challenge of deciding how important each group is, and how much weight their concerns should have, when making decisions. These decisions must be made transparently if they are to have credibility. This paper describes a systematic approach to eliciting such preferences, illustrated through a regional application of the Ocean Health Index in the California Current. The Index provides an ideal case study as it includes a comprehensive set of goals designed to assess the benefits people derive from coasts and oceans. The approach leverages the strengths of two different methods for eliciting preferences, one based on random utility theory and the other on analytical deliberative methodologies. Results showed that the methods were accessible to individuals with diverse backgrounds and, in this case, revealed surprising consensus about fundamental values that may have been missed in deliberations around a specific action, rather than evaluating a spectrum of management priorities. Specifically, individuals, even extractive users, assigned higher weights to cultural and conservation goals compared to extractive ones. The approach offers a general procedure for eliciting explicit preferences through constructive deliberations among diverse stakeholders.