Direct economic losses of oil spills in populated and remote locations within New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Veterinary Science at Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand

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New Zealand is an island nation with an extensive coastline, leading to very high use of its coastal marine environment for recreational activities, tourism, and fishing. Because of this, pollution events such as oil spills, can negatively impact coastal activities, and therefore both the economic gains and the welfare of those who utilise it. Pollution events associated with the marine environment are likely to impact direct use values of recreation, tourism, and fisheries. This research aimed to estimate the direct costs associated with oil spills in populated and remote marine locations within New Zealand. To represent a populated area, the Coastal Bay of Plenty (from Mount Maunganui to Maketu), New Zealand, was selected. This area was the site of the MV Rena oil spill in 2011, which is still considered New Zealand’s largest oil spill. For this area an estimation of direct use losses was obtained by looking at the pre- and post- spill values for fisheries and tourism in the short term, as well as including the clean-up and restoration costs. Additionally, surveys were conducted along this stretch of beach, which was the most impacted by the MV Rena oil spill, to estimate the loss in recreational value using combined revealed and stated preference techniques of the travel cost and contingent behaviour methods. Fiordland National Park, specifically Milford Sound, SW South Island New Zealand, was chosen as the second site to represent a remote location within New Zealand. Similarly, the combined techniques of travel cost and contingent behaviour surveys were carried out here to estimate the recreational value of the area, and the potential loss in the event of an oil spill occurring in Milford Sound. This survey differed from the Coastal Bay of Plenty survey to account for the unique nature of this site. Additionally, I estimated the probable impacts of an oil spill to the tourism and fishing industries, as well as the possible clean-up costs based on various likely lengths of an oil spill response. The findings from this research contribute to the limited direct economic studies done on oil spills globally, but particularly in New Zealand and the South Pacific. The direct costs associated with the MV Rena can be estimated conservatively at NZD (2021) 99.06-115.38 million (low end not including accommodation), and potential direct costs in a remote area such as Milford Sound can be estimated at a minimum of NZD (2021) 140.235-770.177 million using pre-COVID visitor numbers (low end not including accommodation). It is important to understand the various costs that may be associated with past and future oil spills within New Zealand due to its relatively small economy, and the value that the coastal environment has to its people. Estimating these losses can help inform New Zealand coastal and marine policies, ensuring that as a country New Zealand is suitably and adequately prepared in the event of an oil spill occurring again, therefore minimising not only the economic consequences, but the environmental damages as well.
Thesis will be uploaded after the expiry of the journal embargo on Chapter 5 in August 2024.
Listed in 2023 Dean's List of Exceptional Theses
Oil spills, Marine pollution, Economic aspects, New Zealand, Dean's List of Exceptional Theses