Observing a grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) in Bahia Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico

The value of whale watching to local communities in Baja, Mexico : A case study using applied economic rent theory


Nature-based tourismcan provide opportunities for local stewardship and create incentives to support habitat and conservation of marine species where there is pressure on local habitat. We investigate the local economic value of Eastern Pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) to two communities in Baja California Sur, Mexico, that benefit from nature-based tourism associated with the whales. Using a producer side approach and data for 2006,we estimate the economic rent associatedwithwhalewatching in 2006 and then examine the distribu- tion of that rent among local stakeholders.We find a substantial local value associated with the presence of gray whales,with the largest share (two-thirds) going to the whale watching owner-operators. Our findings suggest that increasingthewhalewatching price in2006wouldhave beena cost-effective strategy for increasing the rent captured locally fromwhale watching. Finally,we conclude with a brief assessment of developments since 2006.

Ecological Economics