What is a Fish Out of Water? The Economics Behind the Joint Management of Water Resources and Aquatic Species in the United States

This paper reviews the economics literature on management problems involving linked water resources and aquatic species.



April 18, 2019


Working Paper

Reading time

1 minute


The health of many marine, coastal, freshwater, and other aquatic ecosystems is inextricably linked to water quality and quantity management decisions. In this article, we survey contributions by economists that quantify the impacts of water resource management on aquatic species in the United States, and, in some cases, quantify opportunities for welfare gains from managing water and aquatic species systems jointly. Existing studies address multiple water uses, such as agricultural irrigation and hydropower generation, as well as different societal benefits from aquatic species such as commercial and recreational fishing and endangered species preservation. The studies employ a variety of methodologies including stated and revealed preference, bioeconomic modeling, and reduced-form econometrics. We conclude with a discussion of future research directions that could enhance understanding of tradeoffs between water and aquatic species management outcomes and identification of opportunities for gains from joint management in the United States.


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