Gulf of Mexico offshore ecosystem services: Relative valuation by stakeholders
Werner, Sandra R.
Isaksen, Gary H.
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While efforts to integrate ecosystem services into the management of coastal and terrestrial systems continue to advance, similar efforts for deepwater environments are still in the early stages of deliberation. To begin closing this gap, two workshops were held to engage participants in a discussion on ecosystem services provided by the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, and to facilitate the relative ranking of offshore ecosystem services using a non-monetary valuation scheme. Both workshops relied on a balanced representation of ocean users from multiple industry sectors, government and non-government organizations with interests in the deepwater Gulf. The following findings were made: (1) participants recognized the benefit of being able to rank multiple ecosystem services rather than limiting their attention to those services that were closely related to their respective constituents׳ interests; (2) both workshops yielded similar results, with food, raw materials (including hydrocarbons), and recreation being among the top three ranked ecosystem services; (3) participants in both workshops distinguished between direct (provisioning and cultural) and indirect (regulating and supporting) services; (4) there was a preference among participants to focus on ranking the direct services; and (5) participants of the workshops expressed that the role of the indirect services needed to be considered when designing monitoring and/or mitigation measures to protect the sustainability of the direct services. These results can be used in future discussions to further vet the viability of using such a non-monetary valuation scheme to assist in guiding the development or implementation of scientific and socio-economic indicators to monitor and maintain the health of ecosystem services in order to try to meet stakeholder needs.