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Assessing the Economic Contribution of Ocean-Based Activities Using the Pacific Coast of British Columbia as a Case Study

Changing Ocean Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
The OceanCanada Partnership, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Fisheries Economics Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8662;
Received: 30 April 2022 / Revised: 5 July 2022 / Accepted: 6 July 2022 / Published: 15 July 2022


Global obligations to achieve sustainable oceans by 2030 require countries to commit to solutions that balance ocean use and protection. To do so necessitates baseline understanding of the ocean’s contribution to socio-economic well-being, which we do by measuring the economic activity of ocean-related sectors. Economic assessments tend to be data intensive and are typically reliant on professional economists, yet they are increasingly relevant to non-economists who engage in ocean management and communication, where they are integral in facilitating trade-off analysis of future ocean change. Thus, there is a need to make ocean economic assessment more accessible to nonspecialists. We fill this need by providing a pragmatic framework for conducting an economic assessment using British Columbia’s ocean sector as a case study. Our results show the impact of the province’s ocean sectors on four economic indicators and indicate that the ocean contributed almost $5 billion (or about 2%) to provincial gross domestic product (GDP) and generated about 106,120 jobs (over 4% of the province’s total) in 2015. Of these, the marine transport sector made the highest overall contribution followed by cruise lines, with GDP impacts of 66% and 13%, respectively. It should be noted that this estimated economic value is not representative of the full value of the ocean as it excludes oil and gas, research and education, and other activities that do not meet our criteria for inclusion, and it does not account for cultural and ecological values. Nonetheless the study highlights the substantial number of economic benefits generated by the blue economy. More significantly, the framework provides a simplified procedure for quantifying economic benefits, and can be applied by nonspecialists to perform rapid economic assessments in a variety of contexts.

1. Introduction

The ocean covers 70% of the earth’s surface, and its importance to supporting life on earth is correspondingly vast, being home to the majority of biodiversity on earth and the source of valuable marine resources that humans depend on. The ocean is also central to the cultural heritage of maritime communities around the world [1,2,3], essential for global trade and travel, and provides critical services such as carbon sequestering, water purification, and coastal protection [4,5]. However, the world’s oceans are increasingly polluted by garbage and toxic chemicals, and their productivity is compromised by biodiversity loss and climate change [6,7,8].
Protecting the ocean is equivalent to investing in future environmental and societal sustainability, but public knowledge of and concern over the ocean’s health is low compared to that of terrestrial ecosystems. For example, at the end of 2017 about 10.5% of Canada’s terrestrial area was protected, compared to just 2.9% of its marine area [9]. At the same time, countries have an obligation to achieve sustainable oceans as part of the global commitment to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [10], specifically Sustainable Development Goal 14. This will require governments to dedicate technical and financial resources towards solutions that balance ocean use and protection. One way to facilitate this is to demonstrate the economic benefits that the ocean provides to society [11], such as the value added to the economy and number of jobs generated by ocean-based sectors [12], net income, and the spinoff benefits to the wider economy arising from spending by people and companies in those sectors [13].
Quantifying the ocean’s total economic value is inherently complicated by the range of tangible and intangible goods, services, and experiences that it provides to society, species and the broader environment. Total economic value consists of use and non-use values, of which use value is derived from direct or indirect use. Direct use includes extractive (e.g., fishing) and non-extractive (e.g., tourism/recreation) uses, while ecosystem services are an example of indirect use. Non-use values encompass bequest, option, and existence values that relate to future use, the satisfaction that people derive from knowing that nature exists and other altruistic values, as well as cultural and spiritual attachments [14,15,16].
Capturing the multiple value dimensions of the ocean is thus a complex and involved exercise; however, it is a matter of priority to coastal countries given the central role of oceans to the blue economy, which is one of the fastest growing economic sectors that is expected to contribute over US$3 trillion to the global economy in the coming decade [12]. Thus, we pose the following research question: what approach can we use to estimate the ocean’s contribution to local and national economies so that it is accessible to managers, policymakers, practitioners, and other stakeholders alike?
To answer this question, we will provide a framework for assessing the ocean’s direct economic contribution. The outputs of this assessment can be applied to perform rapid assessments or ‘back of the envelope’ calculations, which can then be used to communicate the importance of the ocean at its most basic level to a wider audience. The framework will not account for indirect or non-use values and therefore does not constitute a total economic valuation.

Economic Contribution of Oceans

Since an initial study of the ocean economy in the United States appeared in Science in 1980 [17], subsequent ocean valuation studies have taken place in other regions across the world [18]. Measuring the economic contribution of ocean-related sectors is often a central part of socioeconomic impact assessments, which are a tool used by corporations and governments to evaluate the feasibility and desirability of implementing a management or policy intervention. In terms of ocean protection, impact assessments give clarity to socio-economic trade-offs that are relevant to policy decisions, for instance, in evaluating the effect of creating marine-protected areas on fishing communities and other stakeholders [19,20], or economic development decisions related to ocean use, for example, analysing the viability of ocean renewable energy [21].
The economic contribution of oceans is captured in the national income accounts of countries via key indicators of economic activity such as gross output and value added by industries, labour and wages, as well as employment levels [22]. However, data that are required to conduct an economic assessment can be obscure and not readily apparent or accessible, and the methods of accounting tend to be reliant on having some technical grasp of economics, such that its application is usually delegated to specialists. Thus, there is need for a structured framework to guide general practitioners and managers in assessing the ocean’s value [18]. We fill this need by presenting an intuitive valuation technique that provides a baseline estimate of the ocean’s economic value. The value of this approach is in providing a toolkit that directs users in identifying appropriate data sources and quantification proxies on which to build an economic valuation. Often, the timely availability of economic quantifications can kick-start policy decisions on tasks such as allocating resources to address topical issues such as coastal protection and fisheries management. We apply this valuation technique to British Columbia’s (BC) ocean sectors in the period 2000–2015, as a case study.

2. Methods and Materials

2.1. Study Site

British Columbia is situated on the west coast of Canada and has a coastline that extends approximately 29,000 km and includes about 6500 islands. The province’s waters are rich in marine diversity [23], and the ocean environment also supports a rich First Nations culture that spans back thousands of years [24,25]. Looking forward, the ocean is central to the growing tourism and recreational sectors and potentially valuable to the energy sector. In addition, BC’s location on the Pacific coast gives it a strategic advantage in global trade routes. British Columbians’ affinity with the ocean is reflected in everyday life, from the popularity of water-based activities, consumers’ taste for fresh seafood, to people’s identification with iconic species such as salmon and natural beauty of the sea. Despite this, BC’s ocean environment and marine species face mounting threats from global climate change [24], land-based development, water vessel traffic and pollution, and other anthropogenic stressors [26,27], with huge potential economic and social effects [28]. Demonstrating the importance of the ocean to human well-being through its economic contribution is one way to draw much needed investment in research and policy intervention to protect this valuable natural resource. The most comprehensive economic analysis of BC’s ocean sectors is more than a decade old [29], and more recent economic impact assessments are constrained geographically or by sector. Thus, it is timely to conduct an updated economic assessment of BC’s ocean sectors.

2.2. Ocean Sectors

  • Step 1: Defining Ocean sectors
We first defined the sectors to be included in the economic assessment. The criteria for inclusion are that the activity is closely linked physically to the ocean and generates a continuous flow of benefits to society that is direct and accessible to the majority of people (i.e., the benefit is not only enjoyed by a small group of people/companies). As well, we only accounted for activities in which the benefits flow primarily to British Columbians. The sectors included in this assessment are wild fisheries, recreational fisheries, seafood processing, marine recreation and tourism (consisting of the whale watching, kayaking, and ocean-side activities), cruise lines, and marine transportation (consisting of marine shipping, freight and passenger transport, and support services). Further, we categorised these sectors as either living or nonliving, where living means the sector is dependent upon an ecologically functioning ocean ecosystem. On the other hand, sectors classified as nonliving require only a water medium to operate and do not require underlying biodiversity or ecological health. For example, the ‘nonliving’ marine shipping sector would be able to continue transporting goods around the world even if the ocean was devoid of marine life. We considered ports and harbours, water transportation, and cruise lines as ‘nonliving’, and all other sectors as ‘living’.
Excluded ocean sectors include offshore oil and gas, which was left off because it is a speculative sector subject to federal and provincial regulatory uncertainties. Specifically, there has been a provincial moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development off BC’s West Coast since 1970 and an informal federal moratorium since 1972. Furthermore, studies have indicated that any oil and gas development is likely to produce relatively less benefit to BC society, such as low local employment and creation of temporary instead of permanent jobs [30]. Manufacturing (ship building, navigation technology), research and education, and professional services were also excluded because they are not activities that are directly (physically) connected to the ocean. We also did not account for tax payments to the provincial and federal governments, nor spending by governments on marine services such as ferries and coast guards because these too were considered to be too far removed from the ocean itself.
  • Step 2: Assessing economic impact on the economy
Economic contribution was assessed by the impact of ocean-based activities on four areas of the economy-sector revenue (output), gross domestic product (GDP, current price), labour income, and total employment. All monetary values are in Canadian dollars. The economic contribution from each of the six studied ocean sectors were summed to arrive at the total economic contribution of BC’s ocean sector (Figure 1).
Total revenue—The first step of the economic assessment was estimating total revenue (or output) in each ocean sector, where revenue is the income that a business receives from the sale of goods and/or services (Table 1). Parameters for calculating total revenue were selected according to the accessibility of data and availability of time series data. Gaps in time series data were filled by linearly interpolating between years with data, or by projecting forward and/or backward based on indices such as the consumer price index or proxy trends (e.g., population growth and visitor arrivals). Here, we describe the parameters that were used to calculate total revenue in the living and nonliving sectors (See Supplementary Materials Table S1 for calculations and data sources).

2.3. Living Sector

  • Marine recreation and tourism—We accounted for popular ocean-based activities, based on participation rates from a survey of BC participants in outdoor recreation [31]. These included ocean-side activities (beaches, scenic viewing), kayaking, and whale watching. We summed up the direct spending of participants (locals and tourists) to estimate total revenue in the marine recreation and tourism sector. This similar methodology is used in other valuation studies of marine ecotourism [23,32]. We chose to use this method because it avoids the time-consuming and data-intensive task of accessing annual and monthly business administrative surveys for revenue and expenditure data of the more than 15 industries that are considered to be tourism-related [33]. In addition, due to confidentiality issues, revenue data may not always be publicly accessible, and these data may have to be obtained by conducting primary research [34].
  • Recreational fishing—Total revenue was estimated by multiplying total recreational catch by the average angler expenditure per tonne of fish catch. Total recreational fish catch was extracted from the Sea Around Us database. Recreational catch surveys that monitor saltwater/tidal recreational fishing provide data on angler expenditures in terms of the number of fish caught. To convert this unit into tonnes of fish, we obtained length–weight conversions from Fishbase ( for the top 3 species caught by BC saltwater anglers, which were chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon [35]. The length–weight conversion was done using minimum length requirement measurements for the three species. We then converted the units of fish caught to tonnes of fish using the weighted average weight of the three top species, where the weighting was determined by the relative proportion of the three species in total reconstructed recreational catch from the Sea Around Us database. We divided total tonnage by total angler expenditure [35] to obtain average angler expenditure per tonne of fish catch.
  • Wild fisheries—Total revenue was the landed value of total catch, which was calculated as fish catch multiplied by ex-vessel fish price for each taxa in the catch. Ex-vessel fish prices and total catch were extracted from the Sea Around Us database, where fish catch included reported and unreported landings and discards by Canadian industrial and artisanal boats fishing in the Canadian Pacific and United States Alaskan waters.
  • Seafood processing and packaging—Total revenue in seafood processing and packaging was estimated by adding a processing margin to the total landed value of BC’s wild fisheries (described above). The processing margin was obtained by taking the averaged difference between wholesale value and landed value of wild caught BC seafood production from 2014 to 2016 [36], which is the added value from processing to prepare fish for the market [37].

2.4. Nonliving Sector

Cruise lines—The revenue generated from cruise tourism was estimated using the same approach as that for the marine recreation and tourism sector. Here, we summed up the spending by cruise vessels, and cruise line passengers and crew.
Marine transportation—Statistics Canada’s classifies this sector as establishments that are engaged primarily in the transportation of passengers and goods (e.g., ferries), as well as support services such as cargo handling, piloting, and harbour and port operation. Ancillary services such as maritime law and shipping supplies/equipment were also included as part of the ocean transport sector in the [29] economic impact study. Here, we consider marine transport to consist of three subsectors—freight and passenger transport, marine shipping, and support services.
Marine shipping—The activities in this subsector are typically classified as ‘support services’ for water transportation by Statistics Canada and include port and harbour operations, marine cargo handling, and navigation services to shipping. Economic impact arising from the marine shipping sector was calculated using employment as the base reference point rather than revenue, following the approach used in an economic impact assessment of the Port of Vancouver [38]. The InterVISTAS study [38] provided 2016 employment data, collected from surveys, for the Port of Vancouver. Employment data reported the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in five broad classes of port operations, i.e., maritime cargo; cruise; construction, vehicle, building and repair; non-marine-related services; and other marine-related services. We included maritime cargo and other marine-related services under the economic impact from marine shipping, while port operations related to cruise liners were attributed to the cruise sector in this study. The calculation of FTE jobs from 2000 to 2015 was based on one anchor point in 2015/2016 for which data was available. The total number of FTE jobs in 2016 in maritime cargo and other marine-related services was divided by total tonnage of cargo that moved through the port of Vancouver (138 million tonnes in 2015) to provide a job-to-tonnage ratio. This ratio was then multiplied by the volume of cargo handled by the Port of Vancouver in the years 2000–2015 to derive total FTE jobs in each of those years. Total cargo tonnage at the Port of Vancouver was raised by 30% to account for cargo volume handled at other BC ports. This percentage was based on data [39] that indicated the Port of Vancouver handled on average about 70% of total cargo tonnage that passed through the Pacific region from 2002 to 2011. Values for total revenue, GDP, and wages were then generated from the number of FTE jobs by applying input–output multipliers.
Freight and passenger transport—We used BC Ferries revenue to represent this subsector’s economic output. Ref. [40] found that BC Ferries generated revenues of $365 million in 2000, which we used as an anchor point. This value was then extrapolated to 2015 using the Consumer Price Index ( Other industries that are typically included in this subsector are marine towing, ship chartering, and shipping [40]. Ship chartering is omitted from this study because the industry is not well developed in Canada [40]. Marine towing and the handling of cargo in the shipping industry are captured in the marine shipping subsector of this study.
Support services—This subsector was only given cursory treatment in this study due to limited data and its comparatively low contribution to overall marine transport economic impact relative to the other two sub-sectors. We accounted for marine support services by taking 25% of revenue from the annual output statistics for the water transportation industry (BS48300) released by Statistics Canada. The proportion was based on a breakdown of gross output from BC’s ocean transport sector 2002–2005 [29], in which ‘other services’, covering shipping equipment and supplies, shipping agents, maritime law and other related businesses, averaged 25% of total output from 2002 to 2005.
Value added—We derived the value added (i.e., GDP) by subtracting the cost of intermediate inputs from total revenue. Intermediate input costs were quantified as a proportion of total revenue (see Supplementary Materials Table S2).
Gross domestic product is a measure of the value of all final goods and services, and it can be derived by summing the prices of all final goods and services produced in the economy using either an income or expenditure approach. The expenditure approach sums the amount paid for final goods and services, while the income approach measures the income received for products and services. GDP can also be measured by calculating the value that is added to goods and services at each stage of production. This study uses the latter method because it provides more flexibility in terms of the sources and types of data that can be utilised. Another approach to estimate GDP is to use direct multipliers from provincial input–output tables (See Supplementary Materials Table S3), which, when applied to total revenue, yield GDP (at basic prices) per dollar of output. Input–output tables show inter-industry transactions, tracing the flow of goods and services as they move from one industry to all other industries. The multiplier method was used to calculate GDP for the water transportation sector due to insufficient information for the value-added approach.
Labour and employment—Labour income (wages and benefits) and total employment were derived by applying direct impact multipliers obtained from provincial input–output tables (see Supplementary materials Table S3) to total revenue in each sector. Labour income is inclusive of wages and salaries, and total employment is expressed in FTE jobs. The calculated values of total revenue are sensitive to the input parameters, which cascade into the subsequent derivation of GDP, income, and employment values. To obtain an indication of output validity, we compare our findings to other study results where available (see Supplementary Materials Table S4).

3. Results

We estimate that ocean sectors in British Columbia contributed about $4.9 billion to the province’s GDP in 2015, generating total industry revenues of about $12 billion; just over $4.4 billion in labour income; and 106,120 full-time equivalent jobs (Figure 2a–d). For comparison, in 2015, total employment in BC was 2.4 million [41] while province-wide GDP totaled $224 billion [42]. The contribution of nonliving sectors was greater than that of the living sectors, comprising 81%, 79%, 85%, and 76% of total revenue, GDP, labour income, and jobs in 2015, respectively. When indirect and induced effects were added, the ocean’s contribution to GDP increased to $23 billion from revenues of over $26 billion, corresponding to labour income of $15 billion and 366,000 full-time equivalent jobs (Figure 3a–d).
Transportation sector and cruise lines were the highest contributors to GDP, accounting for 66% and 13%, respectively, in 2015, while the contributions of wild fisheries and marine recreation and tourism were much lower (Figure 4). Marine shipping generated on average 88% of the GDP from the marine transportation sector. Visitor spending on ocean-side activities made up the largest portion of GDP in the marine recreation and tourism sector (84%), followed by spending on whale watching (9%).
The values of revenue, GDP, jobs, and wages estimated in this study varied from previous studies according to the sector and indicator being compared (Supplementary materials Table S4). Some sectors exhibited large variance; for example in the seafood processing sector, the difference in GDP between those calculated by this study and those from Statistics Canada tables ranged from 10% to 134% higher in the period 2000–2015.

4. Discussion

Economic activities supported by BC’s ocean span across multiple sectors. This study covered six sectors, which, although not inclusive of all ocean-based industries in BC, is more representative of the ocean’s economic contributions compared to other assessments that tend to be sector-specific [23,32,34,43], see exception of [29]. Total GDP and output from the nonliving sector were on average about 2.2 and 3 times higher, respectively, over the 15-year period from 2000 to 2015 than that from the living sector, driven largely by activities related to marine transport. This should not be misinterpreted to mean that an ecologically degraded ocean is acceptable, nor that there are no economic consequences to ocean degradation. The value of the living sector is likely to be comparable to or even surpass the nonliving sector if we also accounted for ecosystem services and non-use values. For instance, Ref. [44] estimated that the marine component of aquatic ecosystem services in BC’s Lower Mainland was worth about $22.6 billion. Evidently, it demonstrates the importance of maintaining healthy oceans. Given future projected climate change, the climate mitigation roles of marine ecosystems [45] will only become more valuable.

4.1. Data and Other Factors That Influence Results

Our results show that the marine transportation sector, which contributed an estimated $2.9 billion (66%) to GDP in 2015, plays a prominent role in the province’s economy. In comparison, Statistics Canada reported that BC’s water transportation sector generated $928 million in provincial GDP in 2015 [46], a lower value that potentially diminishes the ocean’s economic importance. Discrepancies between this study’s results and other economic valuation studies may be driven by different data input sources or units of accounting.
In the case of recreational fisheries valuation, this study used fish catch data at the regional (Pacific) level from a global database (Sea Around Us) compared to location specific participant survey data used by [47]. The Sea Around Us catch database accounts for unreported fish catches across all fishery sectors [48], resulting in higher estimated fish catch amounts, hence higher economic impact values in this study compared to others. In contrast, the number of jobs estimated in wild fisheries is much lower (~165%) than that reported by government agencies [49]. The difference may be explained by the different units used to quantify jobs—The Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) numbers refer to the total number of workers, without specifying if workers are seasonal or year-round, whereas this study reports in full-time equivalent units, which is defined by Statistics Canada as “total hours worked divided by average annual hours worked in full-time jobs”. Part of the difference is also likely due to the inclusion of both marine and freshwater fish harvesters in DFO’s primary employment statistics, whereas this study includes marine fish harvesters only. In the cruise tourism sector, this study’s estimate of jobs and total revenue in 2014 were 84% higher and 39% lower, respectively, than those by an industry-led study [50]. Despite the variance in actual values, both estimates highlight that cruise tourism provides substantial economic benefits to BC.
Our approach accounted only for benefits that accrue to sectors that provide services for activities that are closest to the ocean (e.g., whale watching), and expenditures in supporting service sectors were deemed to be captured by the indirect multipliers. We showed that existing datasets can be integrated into the framework to minimise time required for primary data collection, although the trade-off may be coarser resolution data that is less reflective of actual conditions. For instance, data used to estimate the economic contribution of recreational fishing were extracted from the Sea Around Us’ global fish catch database which is publicly available. Having the option to incorporate multiple datasets in the framework facilitates scaling spatially and temporally, at national, regional, and international levels, which is practical for further use in integrated assessments or scenario modeling for policy analysis.

4.2. Limitations of Assessed Ocean Economic Contribution

The oil and gas industry, energy, and government sectors were excluded because we considered them as either speculative in nature, or the benefits that arise from them are too far removed from the physical presence of the ocean itself. The inclusion of these sectors would likely increase the ocean’s economic contributions substantially—the oil and gas sector alone can potentially generate up to $137 billion in provincial GDP [29], while federal and provincial government expenditures on ocean-related activities such as fisheries management, transportation, and naval operation totaled $854 million and $153 million in 2005, respectively [29].
The seafood sector assessment was constrained to the supply chain from the point of capture to seafood processing, and it omits the added value as fish move from wholesale to the retail sector. As fish move up the supply chain, the value they add to the economy becomes more diluted and difficult to trace, requiring further research to measure. Thus, for accounting purposes, we left this component out of the study but acknowledge that the added value can be substantial [51]. Our estimates are thus on the conservative side.
Province wide wild fisheries contribute less than 5% to overall GDP. However, this study did not account for subsistence fisheries, based on the rationale that their primary purpose is to fulfill food and socio-cultural requirements [52,53], so they are noncommercial in nature and do not enter the market economy. Nonetheless, subsistence fisheries are significant—the food value of food, social and ceremonial aboriginal fisheries in a regional district on Northern Vancouver Island was approximated to be $0.4 million and $1.8 million in 2009 and 2010 respectively [54]. Thus, the relatively small aggregated value of wild fisheries estimated by this study should not diminish the local scale importance of fisheries. Another limitation of this economic impact assessment is the exclusion of socio-cultural, aesthetic, and spiritual values that are associated with the ocean [55,56]. Nonmarket valuation methods such as willingness to pay surveys and hedonic pricing attempt to capture these intrinsic values [15,57,58,59], and we recognise that they are necessary in comprehensive evaluation of how oceans contribute to human well-being. However, intrinsic values are not included in this study because its focus is on direct economic valuation of the ocean.

5. Conclusions

This study’s framework is geared towards making economic impact assessment accessible to nonspecialists, hence we opted for ease of application in terms of conceptualisation, data collection, and calculation over precise accounting. The streamlined approach is sufficient for dealing with complex sectors such as tourism, which can involve time-consuming and tedious breakdown and allocation of spending weights to the multiple economic sectors that provide services to tourists (e.g., food services and accommodation, transportation, etc.).
Human well-being is undeniably linked to the marine ecosystem [23,60,61]. An economic assessment explicitly portrays people’s socio-economic reliance on the ocean and is a first step towards integrated policies for future sustainability; for example, laying out the economic value of focal industries in BC’s Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area provided the knowledge base to facilitate a strategy for marine spatial planning [62].
The framework presented here is meant to simplify the task of conducting an economic assessment so that it can be broadly applied by nonspecialists across scales, sectors, and geographies. We have focused more on practicality for ‘back of envelope’ calculations, so although this approach does not fulfill strict economic accounting, it is nonetheless accessible to a wider audience and can provide a direction for planning marine resource use and protection.

Supplementary Materials

The following supporting information can be downloaded at:, References [63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,73,74,75,76] are cited in the Supplementary Materials. Table S1. Input variables and derivation of total revenue in each ocean-based sector. Table S2. Range of variance used to derive GDP from total revenue in ocean sectors. Table S3. Input–output multipliers. Table S4. Comparison of economic indicators.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization: L.C.L.T., R.S. and W.W.L.C.; Methodology: L.C.L.T., R.S. and W.W.L.C.; Formal Analysis: L.C.L.T., R.S. and W.W.L.C.; Investigation: L.C.L.T. and R.S.; Resources: L.C.L.T., R.S. and W.W.L.C.; Data curation: L.C.L.T. and R.S.; Writing- original draft preparation: L.C.L.T., R.S. and W.W.L.C.; Writing—review & editing: L.C.L.T., R.S. and W.W.L.C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


This research was supported via the OceanCanada Partnership.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Steps involved in estimating the economic contribution of BC’s ocean sectors.
Figure 1. Steps involved in estimating the economic contribution of BC’s ocean sectors.
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Figure 2. Total (a) revenue; (b) GDP; (c) wages; and (d) number of FTE jobs by living and nonliving sectors, 2000–2015.
Figure 2. Total (a) revenue; (b) GDP; (c) wages; and (d) number of FTE jobs by living and nonliving sectors, 2000–2015.
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Figure 3. Total economic impact of ocean sectors averaged over five-year periods from 2000 to 2015 on (a) revenue; (b) GDP; (c) wages; and (d) number of jobs (FTE).
Figure 3. Total economic impact of ocean sectors averaged over five-year periods from 2000 to 2015 on (a) revenue; (b) GDP; (c) wages; and (d) number of jobs (FTE).
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Figure 4. The proportional contribution of ocean sectors in 2015 to total (a) revenue; (b) GDP; (c) wages; and (d) employment (FTEs).
Figure 4. The proportional contribution of ocean sectors in 2015 to total (a) revenue; (b) GDP; (c) wages; and (d) employment (FTEs).
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Table 1. The constituents of total revenue in each ocean-based activity, as determined by the primary output from each activity and their direct beneficiaries.
Table 1. The constituents of total revenue in each ocean-based activity, as determined by the primary output from each activity and their direct beneficiaries.
Ocean Based ActivityBenefit (Output) from ActivityProducer (Beneficiary)Revenue
Wild fisheriesFish catchFishersLanded value
Recreational fishing (residents and nonresidents)Fish catch, fishing experienceRecreational fisher (producer); Local businesses (beneficiary)Expenditure by recreational fisher
Seafood processingSeafood productSeafood processors/buyersWholesale value
Whale watchingWhale/wildlife sightingWhale watching companiesFees paid by participants
Ocean-side activities (locals, tourists)Purchase of land-based goods and servicesPort city (travel, accommodation, food, equipment, etc.)Expenditure by tourists and locals
Kayaking/canoeing (self-guided)Kayaking experienceKayaker (producer); Local businesses (beneficiary)Expenditure by kayaker (travel, gear rental, etc.)
Cruise linesPurchase of land-based goods and servicesPort of callExpenditure by cruise vessels, passengers and crew
Marine transportation
Marine shipping
Passenger and freight transport
Support services
Wharfage, harbour dues
Transport of people
Use of local trades and professional services
Port operators
Ferry operators
Local businesses
Cargo handling fees
BC Ferry revenue
Water sector revenue reported by Statistics Canada
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Teh, L.C.L.; Cheung, W.W.L.; Sumaila, R. Assessing the Economic Contribution of Ocean-Based Activities Using the Pacific Coast of British Columbia as a Case Study. Sustainability 2022, 14, 8662.

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Teh LCL, Cheung WWL, Sumaila R. Assessing the Economic Contribution of Ocean-Based Activities Using the Pacific Coast of British Columbia as a Case Study. Sustainability. 2022; 14(14):8662.

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Teh, Lydia C. L., William W. L. Cheung, and Rashid Sumaila. 2022. "Assessing the Economic Contribution of Ocean-Based Activities Using the Pacific Coast of British Columbia as a Case Study" Sustainability 14, no. 14: 8662.

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