Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Economics

Document Type



Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) provide real time oceanic data and sea state forecasting information that is utilized by numerous public and private sectors engaging in maritime activities. The U.S. Gulf Coast constituent of this system (GCOOS) consists of 321 platforms, buoys, and sensors that provide measurements of wind speed, wave height, water quality, and other parameters. Government entities have proposed an expansion of this infrastructure by 40% at an estimated cost of $35 million for installation and $33 million annually for maintenance. As part of a larger project commissioned to estimate monetized benefits of this expansion, this study applied contingent valuation (CVM) methodology in a survey of avid IOOS users located in the Gulf and Atlantic regions of the United States (N=18,000; n=484). The objective was to estimate general preferences for IOOS data and specific values for the proposed GCOOS expansion. A probit model was used to examine factors associated with a respondent’s likelihood to support the expansion under a public referendum. Responses were solicited via six randomized treatments containing varying tax levels. A majority of respondents (74%) indicated support for the measure, with imputed willingness-to-pay (WTP) estimates ranging from $14.11 and $36.47 annually. Consistent with economic theory, the dollar amount of the tax was significant and negatively associated with referendum support. Proxies for avidity; however, proved either irrelevant or contrary to hypothesized effects. Vessel ownership, vessel size, distance traveled, and hours per trip were non-factors while the number of trips taken proved to be a significant, but negative predictor of referendum outcome. Alternatively, Gulf respondents engaged in fishing and fee-based services were more likely to support the measure indicating that proximity could be a more influential driver than avidity. Interpretation of these results is limited by the relatively small population queried. A broader depiction will emerge parallel versions of this survey are completed with larger populations. Taken together, these studies should prove valuable in characterizing preferences for IOOS data, assessing the economic merit of GCOOS expansion, and demonstrating the potential for non-market approaches in the valuation of publically-funded information systems.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Rex Caffey