An Economic Evaluation of Columbia River Anadromous Fish Programs

It is Important to avoid misallocation of resources for either private or public production.. Misallocation in public programs can result frym failure to employ resources in high priority uses or to eliminate programs that have become obsolete. This study evaluates the benefits and costs of the continuing public program aimed at maintaining Columbia River anadi.omous fish runs. The hydroelectric power potential of the Columbia River exceeds that of all other United States river basins. Irrigation, flood control navigation and recreation are other important products that. are, often complementary with dam construction. Anadromous fish, however, compete with products requiring construction of dams that blockade essential fish migration routes. Costly passage facilities at the dams prevent total blockage of the lower river and supplemental projects such as fish hatcheries at least partially repilace lost productivity. Benefits from the available supply of Columbia River anad- ., romous fish result from commercial, sport and Indian fishing. These beneff:ts cannot be directly measured through market prices, however, and thus must be estimated. The coEj, of regulated inefficiency was used to estimate net benefits from commercially-caught fish. Regulated inefficiency results from. management policies that equate physical supply capability with market demand through regulated increases in fishing costs. Transfer costs were used as a proxy for nonexistent market prices to estimate the value of sport-caught fish. Revenue maximization using this estimating method implies that some sport fishermen will be excluded. Thus, an assumed transfer from sport to commercial catch was also taken into account. Past, present and future program costs and associated benefits indicate that the effort to preserve Columbia River anadromous fish probably could not have been justified by economic criteria in the 1930's when major costs first began. However, the share of this prograin remaining in 1965 could be justified on economic grounds if traditional capital costs were used and where alternative investment possibilities were not considered.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-22

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