Direct and indirect benefits which may be derived from marine environmental prediction are examined in both quantitative and qualitative terms for the eastern Gulf of Mexico area. Conclusions drawn include the following: Of the primary environmental factors affecting the dimensions and types of benefits being derived from marine resources, five appear particularly relevant to commercial fishing and deep-water recreation in the eastern Gulf;
precipitation patterns, and
special conditions of tropical storms, fog, etc.
Sea state is the most significant factor for marine users, followed by wind information. Additionally they seek reports of barometric readings and predictions of precipitation and temperature ranges. If a prediction service were introduced, commercial fishermen, charter boat operators and sportsmen could enjoy income or other benefits varying from ﹩0.5 to ﹩6.0 million per year by 1975. Indirect benefits could add another ﹩1.2 to ﹩5.7 million. Optimum weather and sea-state predictions alone would furnish benefits ranging from ﹩0.5 to ﹩3.5 million by 1975. If predictable underwater parameters could be correlated with fish location and used by commercial fishermen, additional benefits on the order of ﹩2.6 million could result.
The approach of this paper is that environmental prediction services of an agency like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may directly or indirectly satisfy national objectives and involve use or modification of the physical environing. A comprehensive Marine Environmental Prediction Service, which was encouraged by the Federal Council of Marine Science and Technology would seem to offer a great deal of promise. This was tested in the two primary activity sectors offshore fishing and deep water recreational boating. Field interviews were carried out with local technical personnel of the National Weather Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wild Life, as well as marina dock masters industrial association spokesmen, fishing boat operators, university research personnel, Lind individual fishermen. Altogether, approximately 150 interviews were conducted. The area of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico is defined as encompassing the waters off the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Western Florida (see Fig. 1). The first step in estimating direct and indirect benefits is to identify primary physical factors affecting the types of benefits being derived from marine resources. 1.
While research on wind, waves and swell in the Gulf is continuing at several institutions and by various means, the approximate height, speed, and period are now considered generally predictable. The Gulf is not known for the extremely heavy swell found in the major oceans, but in other respects, the erratic tidal and current patterns, as well as the exceptional energy content of Gulf waters generated by the suns heat, contribute to extremes of unusual complexity.