Discussion Paper

The Benefits and Costs of Fish Consumption Advisories for Mercury

Oct 1, 2002 | Paul Jakus, Meghan C. McGuinness, Alan J. Krupnick


Mercury contamination of the Chesapeake Bay is a concern to health authorities in the region. We evaluate the economic and health effects of postulated recreational and commercial fishing advisories for striped bass on the Maryland portion of the bay. Awareness of and response to the advisory is estimated using a meta-analysis of the literature. Three values are estimated: welfare losses to recreational anglers, welfare losses in the commercial striped bass fishery, and health benefits. An estimate of percentage of consumer surplus loss is applied to the value of all fishing days in the bay to estimate recreational welfare loss. Welfare losses to the commercial fishery are estimated based on a model of supply and demand. Health benefits are estimated using estimated exposure and epidemiological relationships, and while potentially large, are highly uncertain. Results also suggest most individuals are below advisory standards ex ante, such that advisories should target high-frequency consumers.