Coastal recreation provides $1.2 billion annually to Bay Area economies
Release Date: 01-13-2014

Portland, Ore. – Coastal recreation, from bird watching to beach going, contributes $1.2 billion annually to Bay Area economies, according to a new study released today by the nonprofit Ecotrust and its subsidiary marine consulting business, Point 97.

Researchers surveyed a sample of over 5,000 residents to arrive at the estimate, asking them about their recent recreation activities and their spending on each trip to the coast. Residents in the region take an average of three trips to the coast each year and spend almost $55 on each outing.

“This study shows how significant coastal recreation is for the region and its visitor-based businesses,” says Cheryl Chen, the lead author on the study. “It will help policy makers better understand, enhance, and protect the coastal recreation activities that are so important to Bay Area residents and business owners. As demands on coastal areas grow, increasing our understanding of existing uses will lead to smarter management of our coastline.”

This study is a part of the larger monitoring program around California’s recently established marine protected areas or MPAs. The program, known as the MPA Baseline Program and overseen by a partnership between the Ocean Protection Council, Department of Fish & Wildlife and Ocean Science Trust (, is tasked with characterizing the ecological and socioeconomic conditions of nearshore ocean ecosystems within the wider Bay Area region and across the state. Specifically, this study describes human use patterns across the North Central Coast region ­- those areas of Mendocino, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties from Alder Creek in the north to Pigeon Point in the south -­ and establishes initial data points for long-term tracking of conditions and trends.

The study addresses coastal recreation and three other types of ocean uses: commercial fishing, commercial passenger fishing vessels, and the recreational abalone fishery. The study results provide baseline estimates of the quantity, spatial distribution, and economic value of human uses in the California North Central Coast region.

“In partnership with the state, we’ve designed a monitoring program that can take the pulse of ocean ecosystems and document the extent of ocean-based human activities. This study is an important time stamp that helps build a foundation for science-informed decisions for our oceans,” says Liz Whiteman, program director for the Ocean Science Trust.

Advancing knowledge of how humans utilize, value, and rely upon marine space is critical to understanding how MPAs are benefitting or impacting coastal communities into the future. This information may then be used in adaptive management measures to improve the performance of MPAs towards meeting ecological and socioeconomic goals. The data collected in this study will help to build a much needed long-term data set on how human uses and the socioeconomic health of coastal communities are changing over time.

Read the full study here.

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About Ecotrust

Ecotrust’s mission is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies and ecosystems here and around the world. Over more than 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $80 million in grants into more than $800 million in assets for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding the nation’s first environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and indigenous affairs, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it takes inspiration from the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership. Learn more at

About Point 97

Point 97 is the first high-tech, for profit spin-off of Ecotrust, delivering technology solutions and engagement strategies for coastal and marine planning in regions around the world. Working to improve marine and coastal management practices, Point 97 helps partners and clients strengthen coastal communities and ocean ecosystems, bridge different ocean user perspective and implement management decisions in an inclusive and transparent way. Learn more at