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Public Goods

Conventionally, conservation of marine diversity has been focusing on solutions to the common challenges posed by profit-making activities yielding private benefits of the harvest, economic rent, and employment; hence, over utilization of resources in the process. However, marine resources and services provide public goods and resources of bio-diversity and ecosystem that need to be conserved and are not normally considered in the marine policies. Unless they considered inadequate, this overuse will lead to greater problems in the long-run. Bio-diversity of ecosystems provides public goods that yield numerous benefits that gain recognition in the management of marine resources in todays market. In the recent past, marine spatial planning including the use of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and right-based conservation method, which includes catch shares, are tools used to conserve marine resources for the publics sake.

Globally, there is a growing significance of management of marine resources and other biodiversity services. Thus, exploring conservation of marine resources using impure good approach is crucial, focusing on the breakdown on interface of marine resources and public goods and benefits drawn from both public and private utilization.

Ecosystem services and bio-diversity are examples of environmental public goods that can be consumed by everyone in society without a reduction in the supplies available; thus, they are non-rivalrous. When public good are in large supplies, it is not possible to exclude some from consuming them; therefore, they are non-excludable. Public goods such as clean air provide the society with numerous benefits through indirect use, existence, and other optional means.

In most cases, private markets do not assure efficient production of public goods, and, as a result, such goods tend to be inadequately supplied and conserved. This collective and inadequate private supply of public goods occurs since incentives are available to free riders on the effort of others. Therefore, free riders get way with the external benefits of public goods without paying significant contributions to their provision. Private over-exploitation of marine resources results in limited benefits of public goods due to underinvestment and undersupply of resources. Some environmental resources are impure public goods or mixed goods since they provide both private and public benefits. For instance, whales are examples of impure goods because they supply private benefit by hunting, public benefit by existence, and supplies to the ecosystem and marine food web. Other examples include turtles, dolphins, and sea birds among others. Moreover, it is worth noting that even though traditionally they were conserved for private benefits, today, conservation is necessary for both the private and public benefits.

In essence, efficient provision and management of pure and impure environmental public goods necessitates for public action in order to overcome the inability of private companies or free riders to benefit from supplying such goods. These collective actions can be done through command-and-control regulation, economic incentives, public norms, or technology measures provided by either private firms or governments and non-governmental organizations.

In the past, the government employed command-and-control measures to attain the target of upholding optimum level of impure public goods and their benefits. These measures stipulated rules, which players would follow, and the failure to comply would lead to sanctions. Alternatively, government opted moral suasion, where the government would convince players to act in a communally advantageous way. Moral suasion or sanction is a weak option to attain both conservation objectives and economic efficiencies.

Nonetheless, the best alternative technology to attain the goals and yield more economic efficiencies is through economic incentives. Incentive-based standards shift the face of economic incentives of private players and at the same times give them room to decide whether and how to change their actions. Most of these measures are established through public policies, even though they can be initiated in private voluntary contracts. Incentive-based measures consist of charges such as taxes, users fee and deposit- refund system, subsidies, permits, and rights to traders, which reduce pollution in the market and enhance tradable right, and legal responsibility rules and data programs.

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Economic incentives guide private players and consumers in tackling all cost and benefit of production and consumption, considering those values that are not at present captured by the market. Economic incentives can be classified as positive or negative; positive in that they strengthen individual or group rights in the face of open access and negative in that they sanction, fine, and penalize undesirable actions.

Conservation benefits and costs are uniformly distributed. Wealthy community benefits from the existence and indirect use of values since they are non-market and in the public domain. However, the non-market attribute of the conservation benefit has made it complex for decision makers to express market demand for indirect use value and non-use value linked with impure public goods and marine resources accurately. Conservation costs are direct; for instance, enforcement and indirect, for example, opportunity cost of resource users. These costs vary greatly on how they affect different age groups, genders, and ethnic groups. Moreover, costs largely affect poor community, local communities, and developing or landlocked countries. Many of these societies cannot afford the cost of preservation measures. The costs are urgent and tangible, noticeably as lost incomes and reduced resource utilization. For instance, the conservation of sea turtles can lead to a reduction of egg collections thereby affecting fish harvesting methods. Whoever bears the cost and benefits is linked directly to the design and effectiveness of conservation policies.

These policies can be viewed as innovative options that develop economic incentives to connect decentralized private actions with public objectives. Globally, such innovative options can reform relationships among nations and other international parties to support change unsupportive actions towards helpful and self-enforcing acts necessitated for multilateral marine and wildlife conservation. International communities will only cooperate in the process of conservation only if they have initiated programs. These conservation programs must be equally beneficial to all parties. In addition, these programs must address the issues of free riding by establish negative economic incentives such as credible trade measures or positive economic incentive that makes a collective benefit by all participating parties and individual benefit for every party.

Economic incentives mixed with public norms can align private actions of players and result in desirable public conservation. In mixing the two, the right mix will be determined by the situation. This is because economic incentives are mainly significant in socio-political frameworks where a societys economy chiefly operates through markets. Quick shifts in human actions are preferred. A change in public norms may take a longer process because some subsets of the community are very large or dominant enough to exercise authority. Therefore, there must be an objective to achieve since the process can take years or decades.

In conclusion, the concept of impure public good clearly shows that in order to achieve economic optimal conservation, there is a need to acknowledge both the private benefit of profit making activities and public benefits that have no market or price, but have important economic values such as clean air. There are unquestionable economic efficiency reasons for an optimum mix of both private and public use of the resources since overexploitation and over-conservation can occur if either is given more attention than the other is.

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