Studies Explore Economic Relationships between Marine Aquaculture and Wild Capture Fisheries

A series of research projects led by PIFSC Economist Dr. Minling Pan have been devoted to studying the economic relationships between marine aquaculture and wild-capture fisheries. The first project looked at consumers' willingness to pay for seafood, comparing wild-caught marine fish with farmed-raised fish. The study showed that respondents from Hawaii preferred wild-caught fish (salmon and tuna) over farmed-raised fish; specifically, they were willing to pay $10.94/lb more for wild-caught tuna than farm-raised tuna and $5.02 per pound more for wild-caught salmon than farm-raised salmon.

A seafood preferences survey was conducted by former JIMAR economics specialist Kelly Davidson and University of Kentucky 
               graduate student Devie Poerwanto at a Times Supermarket in Hawaii.
A seafood preferences survey was conducted by former JIMAR economics specialist Kelly Davidson and University of Kentucky graduate student Devie Poerwanto at a Times Supermarket in Hawaii.

The second project is investigating the effects of geography and demographics on consumer preferences regarding wild-caught versus farmed-raised fish. In this study, the same survey questions were presented to consumers in two distinctly different states, Hawaii and Kentucky, with substantial cultural and geographical differences. The results clearly show significant differences between the two states in consumers' preferences. The Kentucky consumers were willing to pay more for aquaculture products, while Hawaii consumers were willing to pay more for wild-caught fish products. Further research is planned to extend the survey to another pair of states (one coastal and one inland) to confirm the findings of the Kentucky-Hawaii study and to further investigate influences of geography and demographics on consumer preferences. The information gleaned from these studies should be of value to government seafood officials, seafood producers, and seafood sellers working to develop plans and policies on marine aquaculture.