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Value of Salmon

‘The main cause of the biodiversity crisis is…
exacerbated by a tendency to undervalue biodiversity
and the ecosystem services it supports.’ (TEEB)

We value the wild Atlantic salmon not only for the jobs and income that the species can provide but also for itself.

So there are two basic types of economic benefit to society:

  • The Economic impact of activities related to salmon on the economy of a locality, region or nation as reflected in jobs or household income.
  • The Economic value: the value, expressed in monetary terms, that we place on salmon. This may be its value as food; as a quarry for anglers; as an iconic feature of the natural environment and indicator of its quality; or for its cultural significance. One measure of economic value is the amount we are willing to pay for the salmon and the activities it supports over and above what these cost. If everyone’s willingness to pay is estimated, this gives us the Total Economic Value.

These two types of benefit should not be added but viewed as different aspects of the value of salmon to society.

Cultural, social, and psychological benefits may not be fully captured within economic value. So these should also be explored through other approaches to gain a fuller appreciation of their significance. 

Willingness-to-pay isn’t always the best measure of economic value. For example, where people face losing a salmon fishery, it would be more appropriate to value their loss as the amount they would be willing to accept in lieu of the fishery. 

Understanding the values of salmon can help us make rational decisions about the salmon and how we use, protect and restore it and its environment.

To understand the significance of our action, or inaction, we need to ask:

NASCO has agreed goals and key issues in relation to social and economic aspects of the wild Atlantic salmon and has developed Guidelines for Incorporating Social and Economic Factors in Decisions under the Precautionary Approach. Read more...

Further information:

TEEB (2009). The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. TEEB for National and International Policy Makers. Part II: Measuring what we manage: information tools for decision-makers. Chapter 4: Integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into policy assessment.36pp.


smatapedia salmon
returning a salmon
Courtesy of Guy Mawle
Salmon Education