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Economic Valuation of Fish Provision, Wastewater Treatment, and Coastal Protection in the Israeli Mediterranean Sea

School of Sustainability, Reichman University, 8 Ha’Universita St. Herzliya, Herzliya 4610101, Israel
Natural Resources and Environmental Research Center, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa 3498838, Israel
Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, The National Institute of Oceanography, Tel Shikmona, P.O. Box 8030, Haifa 3547136, Israel
Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research, P.O. Box 447, Migdal 1495000, Israel
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Fishes 2023, 8(5), 236;
Submission received: 31 December 2022 / Revised: 24 April 2023 / Accepted: 26 April 2023 / Published: 29 April 2023
(This article belongs to the Section Environment and Climate Change)


While many current and potential uses of the Israeli Mediterranean Sea have clearly defined the economic value and apparent benefits to various stakeholders (e.g., energy and raw materials extraction and maritime traffic), the benefits of these local marine ecosystems are still severely underexplored and are not manifested in economic terms. Coupled with ongoing environmental deterioration such as overfishing, climate change, and biological invasion, the need for performing monetary valuations of the benefits derived from this ecosystem is clearly evident. In this study, we evaluated three marine and coastal ecosystem services, namely, food provisioning, wastewater treatment, and coastal protection, in order to better quantify and map their importance to society. Food provisioning was inspected through the fishing sector, and its benefits were analyzed using the bioeconomic model. The results recommend a reduction in fishing efforts to increase overall biomass levels of both local and invasive fish species. However, this may lead to an economic loss in fishery profits due to reduced catch levels. The economic valuation of wastewater treatment as an ecosystem service hint at possible thresholds governed by effluent volumes and environmental conditions, whereby exceedance of Good Environmental Status (GES) standards may lead to a reduction of ~25% in the potential benefit of this ecosystem service. Finally, this study proposes an engineering restoration solution for compromised intertidal abrasion platforms, with estimated costs and potential benefits for the conservation of at-risk areas. The annual economic value of this ecosystem service is NIS 65–209 million (EUR 16.2–52.2 million).
Key Contribution: In this study, we assessed three ecosystem services associated with marine and coastal environments, namely food provision, wastewater treatment, and coastal protection, with the aim of accurately quantifying and mapping their importance to Israeli society. Our findings indicate that under scenarios of climate change, a reduction in fishing efforts will be necessary to maintain food provision. We also evaluated the value of the wastewater treatment service and noted the impacts of exceeding Good Environmental Status (GES) standards. Finally, we proposed an engineering solution to enhance coastal protection.

1. Introduction

The marine ecosystem of the Israeli Mediterranean Sea, located in the Levantine basin of the eastern Mediterranean, has undergone significant changes in recent decades caused primarily by species invasion, fishing activity [1,2], river damming, and climate change [3]. The Levantine basin has the hottest, saltiest, and most nutrient-poor waters in the Mediterranean Sea, as a result of high evaporation rates, very low riverine inputs, and limited vertical mixing [4]. It has been stated that multiple empty niches that can be used by invasive species exist in the Levant ecosystem. This may be due to the low biodiversity in the region and the apparent existence of the native species in a habitat that is thought to be at the limits of their tolerance levels [1]. In addition, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, its continuous enlargement, and the similar temperature and salinity conditions between the Levantine Sea and the Red Sea have allowed for the progressive introduction of many species of Indo-Pacific origin into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, known as Lessepsian immigrants [5]. This phenomenon is almost entirely unidirectional, i.e., into the Mediterranean rather than out of it, with the introductions significantly accelerated during the last few decades.
From a worldwide perspective, continuous development pressures, overfishing, and regional and global phenomena such as climate change have all led to an approximately 50% decline in fish catch [6]. The increased fishing activity of all kinds has been particularly harsh for the Mediterranean Sea. Israel has experienced a 45% decline in fish catch, along with a significant increase in bycatch. Currently, the annual fish catch is only 2600 tons, amounting to just a very small percentage of the food fish consumption in Israel [2].
Given the aforementioned stressors and threats and the apparent poor interconnection between species populations, environment, and human activities, a shift towards a more comprehensive analysis and management of human activities, such as ecosystem-based management (EBM), is urgently required. Within this context, ecosystem modeling tools are particularly useful because they allow the study of marine ecosystems as a whole, integrating available information to assess direct and indirect interactions among ecosystem compartments, i.e., trophic interactions and the impact of fishing activity on marine resources.
Ecosystem services are commonly defined as “the benefits people obtain from a determined ecosystem” [7,8,9]. The concept of ecosystem services has emerged in recent years as a dominant field of study and is increasingly being implemented within the field of ecological economics. Up to that period, prevalent neoclassical economics emphasized the use of exchange value and land with capital substitutability when dealing with natural resources. That approach has led to the economic invisibility of ecosystems, excessive negative externalities, and allowed further exploitation of the environment, resulting in habitat and biodiversity loss [10]. With the development of environmental sciences due to the growing scarcity of natural resources and the adverse effects of the degradation of the world’s ecosystems, it became clear that to preserve ecosystem processes and the biodiversity that underpins them, the economic system must incorporate human effects on the environment into its calculations and projections. It was during that time that the concept of ecosystem services came into being, defining the linkage between the flows of benefits and values humans obtain from nature, either directly or indirectly, and the state of nature itself.
Valuation of ecosystem services is the process of assigning a social (usually economic) value to the ecosystem itself and enables the relative assessment of different management scenarios and the impact that they might have on different stakeholders. The challenge in quantifying and valuing marine ecosystem services is the lack of knowledge in linking changes in ecosystem structure and function to the production of valuable goods and services [11,12,13]. This study values three ecosystem services essential for policymakers, as part of summing up the Total Economic Value (TEV) or referring to the marginal value of ecosystem services [8,13,14]. Economic valuation of ecosystem services complements such tools by providing a common measure, aiding decision and policymakers to understand the possible effects of marine development on ecosystems and the welfare of stakeholders, which are associated with these ecosystems.
Our assessment of these economic values of the marine ecosystem relies on the classification of ecosystem services presented by TEEB [9] and IPBES [8] to avoid double-counting of supporting services (which are regarded as ecosystem functions) and incorporate “habitat services” into the valuation.
To date, few assessments of ecosystem services have been carried out for the Israeli Mediterranean Sea. The UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) [15] is the most comprehensive study on the benefits rendered by marine and coastal ecosystem services in the Mediterranean Sea, while other studies were on specific local services such as climate regulation and biological control [16,17]. The UNEP encompasses all countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and evaluates six ecosystem services: (1) provision of food resources, (2) amenities, (3) support for recreational activities, (4) climate regulation, (5) mitigation of natural hazards (coastal erosion), and (6) waste processing. The benefits of these ecosystem services were valued at 1.109 billion Euros (EUR 1 = NIS 4.0) per year for the Israeli Mediterranean Sea. The results, however, represent only crude and often overestimated values of the benefits for the inspected ecosystem services, since these estimates are based on benefit transfer or other estimations, not divided into the different ecosystem services. Although that publication serves as an important assessment and raises awareness among decision-makers, it does not address future scenarios or the conditions that may exist in Israel in the future. The dearth of such detailed studies is mainly due to an acute lack of biological and ecological data regarding this marine environment, which imposes many research difficulties. Moreover, ecosystem service indicators used in studies of distinct marine ecosystems usually do not fit the local context, and applying the benefit transfer valuation method (i.e., applying values obtained in other regions to the Israeli context) might lead to erroneous results.
Previous attempts to estimate the economic values of marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea focused on a limited number of ecosystem services and ignored the economic effect of climate change and overfishing [18]. Hence, this study presents the economic valuation of three ecosystem services not previously assessed in the Israel Mediterranean and has an important function for policymakers in fish provision, wastewater treatment, and coastal protection. In particular, our work contributes to an embracing policy regarding fishing efforts under climate change scenarios [19].

2. Materials and Methods

Ecosystem services addressed in this study are specified in Table 1. Each chosen ecosystem service was monetarily valuated using appropriate valuation methods (see below).

2.1. Economic Valuation Methods

Economic valuation methods can be applied to different fields, and in the case of ecosystem services, the limitations for valuation require a careful approach when selecting the type of valuation method. This valuation method is usually tailored to the type of ecosystem service in question, specific on-site (in situ) conditions, data availability, and beneficiary identity and characteristics. Table 2 lists the most prevalent valuation methods related to our assessed services: fish provisioning, wastewater treatment, and coastal protection.
Depending on the nature of the ecosystem service in question, specific on-site conditions, and data availability, a suitable valuation method was applied. In the case of direct use values, e.g., from food provisioning, the most preferred and straightforward approach is the Market Price Method, in which the market price of consumptive goods represents the people’s willingness to pay (WTP), usually a marginal value. Other types of values, e.g., indirect usage of ecosystem benefits in the form of wastewater treatment or coastal protection by biological organisms, can be inferred using methods such as replacement cost, which estimates the benefits of the ecosystem based on the cost of their artificial replacement (wastewater treatment costs in the case of waste treatment, for example) [20,21].

2.2. Ecosystem Services Valuation

2.2.1. Food Provisioning

The food provisioning ecosystem service was analyzed to explore sustainable management of the fishing effort in the Israeli Mediterranean Sea under different climate change scenarios. Sustainable fishing was defined under the concept of Maximum Economic Yield (MEY), i.e., attaining catch levels that maximize fishing revenues and costs while maintaining renewable biomass stocks. The non-selective nature of the various commercial fishing methods employed in Israel (trawling, purse seine, and artisanal fishing) necessitate the need for achieving Multi-species MEY (MMEY), i.e., setting general fishing effort levels that result in overall MEY of the entire fished biomass.
To determine recommended effort levels for MMEY, the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) model for the Israeli Mediterranean Sea [22,23], coupled with the Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) module within the EwE platform, was applied. EwE is a suite of food web models that include Ecopath, the mass balance model, Ecosim, a time dynamic model, and Ecospace and time-space dynamic model [24]. The EwE model represents the entire food web from primary producers up to top predators and fisheries. The models are constructed based on an assumption of mass balance, calculating the average flows of mass and energy between functional groups. Functional groups represent a species or a group of species with similar ecological traits such as diet and habitat. While Ecopath models represent a snapshot in time, Ecosim models simulate changes to an ecosystem over time using the Ecopath model as starting point (recent reviews of EwE models in [25] and [26]). The Ecosim model used for the current study included 41 functional groups incorporating eight groups representing alien species; based on [24], it includes, inter alia, native and invasive shrimps, native and invasive crabs, benthic and benthopelagic cephalopods, mullets, etc. Environmental forcing functions for the functional groups were added to the model to ensure the simulation of the impacts of environmental change, such as climate change [24].
Our bioeconomic approach explored the dynamics of different fishing efforts on the various fished groups represented in the model to maximize the fisher profits [27], and how their biomass might change as a result. In addition, expected trends in fishing costs (due to rising fuel prices) and fish prices were used [2,28] to derive a possible range for the model to operate in. Using the EwE together with the Monte Carlo tool, multiple runs of the bioeconomic model were carried out, resulting in mean recommended effort levels. These effort levels were then used as input to the original EwE model, resulting in expected changes in biomass, catch, and revenue in the Israeli fishing sector and the underlying ecosystem. The methodology was applied under two climate change scenarios: the first was a general Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model for the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (RCP 4.5) predicting an annual increase in SST of 0.05 °C. The second, based on historically measured temperature trends in the Israeli Mediterranean Sea [4], represents an annual increase in SST of 0.12 °C. MMEY effort was then compared to business as usual (BAU) effort levels under the two climate change scenarios, resulting in four scenarios in total (BAU and MMEY under RCP4.5 and [4] (referred to here as the “Ozer scenario”)).

2.2.2. Wastewater Treatment

In this study, we defined the wastewater treatment ecosystem service as the ecosystem’s ability to provide mitigation benefits to emitters through the capture of eutrophication-inducing pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. The marine environment thus functions as a virtual wastewater treatment plant, negating the users’ need for effluent treatment and associated costs. The ecosystem treats excess nutrients until eutrophication conditions are achieved, at which point, its economic value is nullified. The analysis was based on the replacement cost method, in which the cost of replacing an ecosystem service is an estimate of its value [29].
First, discharge data were collected on a seasonal basis between 2016 and 2020 from discharge outlets situated along the Israeli coastline. The data originate in the Israeli Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR), which includes nitrogen and phosphorus discharges. Next, chlorophyll-a levels next to the outlets were gathered from the Copernicus Mediterranean Sea Biogeochemistry Reanalysis [30]. In their analysis of the Israeli Mediterranean Sea, Kress et al. [31]) established various thresholds for achieving Good Environmental Status (GES), among them temporal and spatial variations of chlorophyll-a concentrations. By comparing modeled chlorophyll-a levels to the recommended GES standard, cases of exceedance were seasonally logged, establishing the ability of the ecosystem to absorb wastewater discharges. By comparing the amount of absorbed wastewater to the amount that was discharged, it was possible to determine the overall assimilation efficiency of the ecosystem. (For levels of discharged and absorbed nitrogen and phosphorus levels, see Table S1 in Supplementary Material).
Next, nutrient treatment costs were based on the prices and values of wastewater treatment by the EPA [32]. The calculated treatment costs for nitrogen and phosphorus were NIS 46.56 and 361.52 per kg, respectively. These were then multiplied by the calculated nitrogen and phosphorus mass that was absorbed by the ecosystem. The underlying logic is that without this ecosystem service, the absorbed wastewater would have to be treated by the emitters.

2.2.3. Coastal Protection

In Israel, approximately 10% of its coasts are home to vermetids, which create distinctive biogenic habitats on abrasion platforms. These vermetid reefs are critical for protecting the coast against erosion and inundation. However, environmental pressures are threatening the organism (Dendropoma petraeum) responsible for maintaining this unique habitat, and there is a significant knowledge gap regarding the reefs, and their current and future functioning is still unknown [33,34,35,36].
An example of a vermetid reef is presented to learn how these reefs protect the coastline and their importance. This area is susceptible to be flooded due to future increased sea levels or coastal surges (see Figure 1).
To quantify the economic damage of sea-level rise on vermetid reefs, a comprehensive assessment of the costs associated with the loss or degradation of this unique habitat is necessary. This involves estimating the economic value of the ecosystem services provided by the reefs, such as coastal protection, tourism, and recreation, and evaluating the potential economic losses that would result from the loss of or reduction in these services due to sea-level rise [33,34]. The costs of implementing measures to protect and restore the vermetid reefs would include the cost of research and monitoring, the cost of conservation and restoration efforts, and the opportunity costs of dedicating resources to the preservation of the reefs instead of other uses.
The process of economic valuation of coastal protection involves assigning a monetary value to the benefits provided by natural ecosystems, such as beaches, dunes, and wetlands, in protecting coastlines from the negative impacts of erosion, sea-level rise, and storm surges. This involves assessing the cost of damage that would occur if these natural systems were absent and comparing it to the cost of maintaining and protecting them. Due to the high uncertainty and lack of data, we relied on the replacement cost method to assess the value of the coastal protection provided by the vermetid reefs. We evaluated the benefits of coastal protection associated with the vermetid reefs by valuing suggested artificial means to preserve the functionality of this habitat [35,36,37].
Biological rehabilitation of abrasion platforms can be achieved by introducing snails from a foreign country, with the hope that they will acclimate and thrive in the ongoing changing conditions of the Mediterranean Sea, such as rising temperatures and acidification. In experiments conducted in Italy, researchers found that young snails could be successfully introduced onto artificial substrates, but it remains unclear whether they will construct their characteristic structures, known as cornices, under these conditions [38]. Preserving a breeding nucleus in laboratory conditions and colonizing young individuals on settlement platforms could be a first step towards confirming the snail population, which is currently at risk due to environmental factors [39,40].
Alternatively, an engineering solution may serve as physical support for the hedgerow banks. One such company, ECOncrete (, accessed on 13 March 2023), specializes in ecological engineering and restoring damaged marine habitats through ecological construction [41]. It should be noted that in most cases, returning to the natural state of the ecosystem is not feasible. Ecological construction and infrastructure improvements involve using materials that do not harm the marine environment, without any leakage of toxins or heavy metals.

3. Results

3.1. Food Provisioning Valuation

The bioeconomic model resulted in different effort recommendations depending on the climate scenario (Figure 2). For each fishing method and under each climate scenario, the model recommends a significant reduction in effort. The effort reduction is expected to lead to changes in fishery profits. Under the two climate change scenarios, the model predicts an economic loss of NIS 185.06–262.98 million. A decrease in total profit under MMEY scenarios occurs along with an increase in artisanal profit (Figure 3). It is important to note that while artisanal effort levels are reduced, the overall profit levels for this fishery sector are expected to increase. There is a tradeoff between reduced profits and ecological gains, which maintain the biomass stable or increase it. Under the recommended effort levels in both climate change scenarios, the overall biomass levels of both local and invasive species groups represented in the model are expected to increase (Figure 4). However, in the case of the invasive species, the increase in biomass under the recommended effort is more moderate than BAU scenarios, hinting at a possible control of invasive species by local species. This finding is only relevant in the case of no expected increase in the number of established invasive species. In addition, under the [4] climate change scenario, recommended effort levels induce an increase in the trophic level of the local species. As to invasive species, the model’s recommended effort levels under both climate scenarios lead to decreased trophic levels, indicating an alternative method of managing invasive species.

3.2. Wastewater Treatment Valuation

The economic valuation of the wastewater treatment provides an economic range for this ecosystem service, depending on the amount and composition of the effluents and the environmental conditions governing eutrophication probability (Table 3). For example, in 2016, both nitrogen and phosphorus discharges were relatively high, but the resulting ecosystem service values were reduced due to an ecosystem assimilation efficiency of 75%. In contrast, in 2019, the overall discharge levels for both nitrogen and phosphorus were low, but with an ecosystem efficiency of 98 and 99%, respectively, the resulting economic values were also substantial.

3.3. Coastal Protection Valuation

ECOncrete proposes an engineering restoration solution for the cornice of the abrasion platform, with an estimated installation cost of around NIS 100,000 for a platform size of approximately 16 m. This amounts to a cost of about NIS 6250 per meter. At this rate, it is possible to restore over 8.5 km of abrasion platforms, which constitute the majority of the at-risk area. To determine which abrasion platforms are most likely to collapse, it is important to consider public demand and ecological assessments for their conservation. Additionally, allocating some of the financial resources towards establishing artificial abrasion platforms in new or adjacent areas could increase the chances of animals migrating from the natural platform to the new artificial platform. Based on our assumptions and collected data, we found that ECOncrete materials are typically 2–7% more expensive than ordinary concrete, and for larger projects, the difference may reach up to 10%. However, the cost of concrete only represents a small portion of the overall project cost. The estimated cost for creating a permanent platform is approximately NIS 200,000, while creating a disposable platform may cost only around NIS 36,000. The cost of operating a crane rig is about NIS 30,000 per working day, which is sufficient for installing a single platform. The cost of setting up a pilot for a single installation is approximately NIS 50,000, and with the addition of the rig, the cost would reach NIS 80,000 per platform. Further, the total cost of five installations includes NIS 100,000 for the platform (one-time expense), NIS 50,000 for installation per platform, NIS 30,000 for a crane rig, and NIS 20,000 for ECOncrete materials (between 5 and 6% of the cost of molding and installations). In summary, the total cost would be NIS 100,000 per platform (based on ECOncrete’s data).
The annual economic value of this ecosystem service was based on ongoing maintenance costs coupled with discounted construction costs over a 30 y period (Table 4).

4. Discussion

The economic valuation of services conducted in this study provides, for the first time, valuable tools for decision makers and stakeholders regarding crucial areas within the Israeli Mediterranean Sea from which they receive benefits. The results clearly show that for the surveyed ecosystem services, some economic values tend to be concentrated along the continental shelf, most likely because of the high primary productivity, which acts as a supporting infrastructure to the ecosystem processes and their services.
The bioeconomic model developed in this study recommends a significant reduction in fishing efforts for different fishing methods and climate change scenarios to maintain or increase fish biomass, with a clear tradeoff between reduced profits and ecological gains. The reduction in effort is expected to result in economic losses of up to NIS 262.98 million, primarily due to reduced catch, with a shift towards increased artisanal profit. Despite reduced effort levels, overall profit levels for this fishery sector are expected to increase. The model predicts an increase in the biomass levels of both local and invasive species under the recommended effort levels, with a possible control of invasive species by local species. The recommended effort levels also induce an increase in the trophic level of local species while resulting in lower trophic levels for invasive species under the two climate scenarios.
This study also provides an economic assessment of the ecosystem service offered by wastewater treatment, which varies depending on the volume and composition of the effluents, and the likelihood of eutrophication. The findings reveal a range of economic values for this ecosystem service. In 2016, with high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus discharges, the ecosystem assimilation efficiency was 75%, resulting in reduced economic values. While in 2019, despite low discharge levels, the ecosystem efficiency for nitrogen and phosphorus was 98 and 99%, respectively, leading to substantial economic values. The results of the valuation suggest that effluent loading volumes and environmental conditions govern the benefits of this ecosystem service. For example, in 2019 and 2020, both nitrogen and phosphorus discharges were relatively similar (1888 and 2074 tons of nitrogen and 352 and 334 tons of phosphorus in 2019 and 2020, respectively). However, GES in 2020 was not present in most discharge outlets, resulting in 66–75% ecosystem assimilation capacity. Compared with the observed ecosystem efficiency in 2019, these conditions translate into a loss of ecosystem benefits ranging between NIS 23.8 and 40.0 million, depending on the effluent type. Further examination of the interplay between effluent levels and environmental conditions that lead to such losses might assist in compiling efficient discharge policies for the Israeli Mediterranean.
To assess coastal protection as an ecosystem service, we used ECOncrete, an engineering solution for the abrasion platform’s cornice restoration [41]. The annual economic value of this ecosystem service, based on ongoing maintenance costs coupled with discounted construction costs over a 30 y period, is estimated to be between NIS 65 and 209 million. ECOncrete, or similar technology, is essential to protect and conserve the abrasion platform ecosystems.
Analysis of the impact of fishing efforts bound to climate change is in line with the results of previous studies for the region [22,31]. The observed and projected increase in water temperature for the eastern Mediterranean Sea provide advantages to invasive species that originate from the Red Sea. The Red Sea organisms are better suited to higher temperatures [1], suggesting that the invasive species will benefit from the rising temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea [42]. The reduced effort suggested to achieve MEY ameliorates some of the pressure on the native species, supporting an increase in their biomass and trophic level. Due to the considerable lack of data regarding all ecosystem services, the assessments carried out in this study relied on conservative estimations for the parameters used in the valuation to avoid overestimated values. Therefore, the economic magnitude of the investigated ecosystem services can be regarded as a baseline for future valuations.
The following is a summary of difficulties encountered during the assessments in this study:
  • The main hindrance detected in this study was the significant lack of ecological and physical data for the Israeli Mediterranean Sea. Up until a decade or so ago, investigations on the shallow and deep waters of the Israeli Mediterranean Sea were limited. Hence, our basic knowledge for accurate economic valuations was, in general, incomplete and rudimentary. Further understanding of the processes that govern this environment will grant us valuable information necessary for better management of the marine ecosystem;
  • For the waste treatment ecosystem service, the need for a clear, detailed, and annual baseline nutrient balance (with the distinction between various nutrient input sources) is imperative. By providing model outputs relying on real data, one could calculate anthropogenic nutrient emissions and provide an ongoing understanding of the magnitude of benefits obtained by the local marine environment over time. Moreover, mapping of the spatial valuation of the benefits of this ecosystem service should be applied;
  • For the coastal protection ecosystem service, the almost complete lack of data regarding the establishment and operational costs of potential artificial vermetid in supplying future ecosystem services proved to be a major difficulty. Further techno-ecological research and understanding of future threats to vermetid reefs are essential for the future.
Understanding the sustainability of marine resources is complex, particularly under increasing anthropogenic pressures. Implementation of monitoring systems at the appropriate frequency and resolution should serve as the basis for evaluating ecosystem sustainability and assessing the status of the specific habitat. This approach would simplify interactions between scientists and managers and would improve the efficiency of their analyses [43].
Overall, from an economic viewpoint, our results provide policymakers and institutions with a better understanding of possible tradeoffs between economic gains associated with marine and coastal development. Though the selected ecosystem services are not unique, they have a critical role in maintaining and preserving the coastal marine environment and affect different stakeholder benefits.

Supplementary Materials

The following are available online at, Table S1: wastewater pollution, Israel.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, S.Z.-S. and Y.P.; methodology, S.Z.-S., Y.P., G.G., Á.I. and E.O.; validation Y.P. and E.O.; formal analysis, S.Z.-S. and Y.P.; investigation Y.P.; data curation, Y.P.; writing—original draft preparation, all; writing—review and editing, S.Z.-S., Y.P. and G.G.; visualization, Y.P.; supervision, S.Z.-S., M.S. and Á.I.; funding acquisition, M.S., S.Z.-S. and Á.I. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the Israeli Ministry of Energy, grant number 215-17-032, Israeli Ministry of Energy 219-17-014, Israeli Ministry of Energy 222-95-223 and by philanthropic funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

All research data are in the paper and Supplementary Materials.


The authors gratefully acknowledge Hagai Nativ, Yaniv Izaki, and Elinor Azuelos for their valuable contributions.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. A shoreline at Dor Beach, Israel, protected by vermetid reefs (adapted with permission from the photo credit Hagai Nativ).
Figure 1. A shoreline at Dor Beach, Israel, protected by vermetid reefs (adapted with permission from the photo credit Hagai Nativ).
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Figure 2. Business as usual and recommended effort (relative to 1994 effort levels) according to the bioeconomic model for the two climate scenarios, RCP 4.5 and [4]), for trawling effort (A), purse seine effort (B), and artisanal effort (C).
Figure 2. Business as usual and recommended effort (relative to 1994 effort levels) according to the bioeconomic model for the two climate scenarios, RCP 4.5 and [4]), for trawling effort (A), purse seine effort (B), and artisanal effort (C).
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Figure 3. Fishery sector Net Present Value (at 3% rate discount rate) of profits for the years 2011–2030, under the different scenarios (values given in New Israeli Shekel, NIS).
Figure 3. Fishery sector Net Present Value (at 3% rate discount rate) of profits for the years 2011–2030, under the different scenarios (values given in New Israeli Shekel, NIS).
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Figure 4. Biomass (in t km−2) and trophic levels under the four scenarios. (A): Biomass of local fish species, (B): biomass of invasive fish species, (C): trophic level of local species, and (D): trophic level of invasive species.
Figure 4. Biomass (in t km−2) and trophic levels under the four scenarios. (A): Biomass of local fish species, (B): biomass of invasive fish species, (C): trophic level of local species, and (D): trophic level of invasive species.
Fishes 08 00236 g004aFishes 08 00236 g004b
Table 1. List of ecosystem services used in this study.
Table 1. List of ecosystem services used in this study.
Ecosystem Services TypeEcosystem ServiceDescription
Provisioning Fish food provisioningEcosystem’s ability to provide consumable biomass (fisheries and mariculture)
RegulatingWastewater treatmentAbsorption and decontamination of effluents in the coastal and marine environment
Coastal protectionProvide physical protection against coastal damages (storms and waves)
Table 2. Valuation methods used in environmental economic analyses [11,12,13].
Table 2. Valuation methods used in environmental economic analyses [11,12,13].
Valuation MethodType of ValueMethod Description
Market priceUsePrices reflect willingness to pay for consumable products
Replacement costUseCost of replacing ecosystem services serves as proxy for their economic value
Table 3. Ecosystem assimilation efficiency and resulting economics valuation of wastewater treatment.
Table 3. Ecosystem assimilation efficiency and resulting economics valuation of wastewater treatment.
Ecosystem efficiency
Wastewater treatment valuation
(million NIS)
Table 4. Economic valuation of artificial replacement costs of vermetid reefs.
Table 4. Economic valuation of artificial replacement costs of vermetid reefs.
High EstimateLow Estimate
Fixed costs
The cost abrasion platform100,000100,000NIS
Unit area16.016.0m2
Unit cost per sqm62506250NIS
The cost of construction and construction as a percentage of the cost of a unit1010%
The area of all abrasion platform877,776877,776sqr
Percentage of overwrite of abrasion platform31%
Space for switching abrasion platform26,3338778m2
Fixed Costs181,041,30660,347,102NIS
Variable costs
Annual monitoring cost as a percentage of unit cost42%
Annual maintenance cost as a percentage of a unit cost105%
Total variable costs1,440,101240,017NIS
NPV (30 years)28,226,6214,704,437NIS
Total costs209,267,92765,051,539NIS
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zemah-Shamir, S.; Peled, Y.; Shechter, M.; Israel, Á.; Ofir, E.; Gal, G. Economic Valuation of Fish Provision, Wastewater Treatment, and Coastal Protection in the Israeli Mediterranean Sea. Fishes 2023, 8, 236.

AMA Style

Zemah-Shamir S, Peled Y, Shechter M, Israel Á, Ofir E, Gal G. Economic Valuation of Fish Provision, Wastewater Treatment, and Coastal Protection in the Israeli Mediterranean Sea. Fishes. 2023; 8(5):236.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zemah-Shamir, Shiri, Yoav Peled, Mordechai Shechter, Álvaro Israel, Eyal Ofir, and Gideon Gal. 2023. "Economic Valuation of Fish Provision, Wastewater Treatment, and Coastal Protection in the Israeli Mediterranean Sea" Fishes 8, no. 5: 236.

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