A new peer-reviewed study by economists Linwood Pendleton and Chris LaFranchi found that the vast majority of coastal recreation in southern California is non-consumptive (does not involve the take or destruction of marine life). Moreover, these non-consumptive activities generate far more money than fishing. Protecting the ocean resources that attract millions of visitors to the south coast each year is not just a moral obligation for local communities; it’s an economic imperative.
The Pendleton and LaFranchi survey was commissioned by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation to help inform efforts to protect southern California’s ocean. It measured the number and type of coastal visitors and the amount of money they generate for local economies.
Recreational activities such as beach walking, swimming in the ocean, surfing, SCUBA diving, visiting tide pools and watching birds and other marine life attract millions of visitors to the south coast each year, where they spend money on parking, ice, food, rentals, accommodations and other items. These expenditures support local businesses, create jobs and provide tax dollars. The survey found that non-consumptive ocean visitors spent 40 times more during their visits than sport and commercial fishermen.
Below is a summary of the key findings from the report:
- More than 93 percent of all visits between Point Conception and Point Fermin are estimated to be purely non-consumptive.
- Of the total expenditures on coastal visits by Southern California residents, 81 percent came from purely non-consumptive visits, and only 2 percent came from purely consumptive visits. The remaining 17 percent came from trips that were a combination of consumptive and non-consumptive.
- Non-consumptive visitors spend nearly $115 million annually.
- Nearly 8 million nature-based visits were made by Southern California residents to coastal sites in this region.
- On average, each non-consumptive ocean visitor spends between $25 and $32 per visit, per day.
- The most popular activities for ocean visitors is “beach going” (63 percent of respondents participated), followed by “sitting in your car and watching the scene” (48 percent), “watching birds and/or other marine life from the shore” (31 percent) and “swimming in the ocean” (30 percent).
- Coastal recreation generates tens of billions of dollars for local economies.
- 70 percent of all Californians visit the ocean annually