Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Jellyfish outbreaks: economic results from a stated-choice experiment in Catalonia (Spain)

Catalonia is characterised by 580 km of coastline, and this area constitutes a world-leading coastal tourist destination. Jellyfish are often mentioned by media and researchers as a pressure on cultural and recreational services. This research is focused on assessing the importance of the reduction the risk of jellyfish outbreaks in determining the consumption of beach recreation activities. Jellyfish outbreaks are a relevant feature in terms of recreative services: respondents are willing to travel further in order to reduce the risk of jellyfish stranding. This fact sheds light on the societal value of environmental information systems, in this particular case on daily jellyfish outbreak information system, as these play a fundamental role in adaptation policy/behaviour.

Respondents were willing to spend an additional 24% time travelling to go to a beach with a lower risk of jellyfish outbreak.

In order to elicit individuals’ preferences for the various beaches represented in the earlier cards, we use a choice experiment (CE) framework, which allows individuals to select between different alternative options. In our study, we apply an economic model to analyse the behaviour of the beach recreationists and, in particular, the demand for beach recreation opportunities. The model is described in accordance to a set of characteristics and the respondent will be selecting the beach destination in accordance to the characteristics that this location has. Results show that respondents are willing to incur in different additional travel times so as to have alternative beach consumption patterns: First, improvement in the beach water quality is, by far, the most valuable attribute and this ranking is valid across all types of respondents. Second, the improvement in the beach infrastructure is ranked second and reduction in the risk of jellyfish outbreaks is ranked third. Finally, the from the econometric view point, the difference in ranking between these two attributes are not statistically significant. In other words, the reduction in the risk of jellyfish outbreaks is seen equally important by the respondents of this study as the improvement of support beach infrastructure.


We can infer that this survey computed jellyfish risk reduction at €322 million/year.

According to our sample results the average income per hour of our sample is €19.23. Using this value we can also monetise the additional travel time that this consumer is willing to incur from moving from a beach with more than 5 days a week of outbreaks to another beach with the same characteristics but with risk of jellyfish outbreak reduced to one day or two per week. This value is €1.22. This means that the consumer is willing to pay in average additional €1.22 to move from a beach with more than 5 days a week of outbreaks to another beach with risk of jellyfish outbreak reduced to one day or two per week. Based on the 2012 tourist statistics released by the Catalan government, from where we can assess a total of 263.7 millions of trips to the beach per year for all recreationists in Catalonia, local, domestic and international recreationists. We infer that this estimate of willingness to pay to avoid jellyfish outbreaks goes up to €322 million/year.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Alien Invasive Species Directive
  • Common Fisheries Policy
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • ICZM Protocol to the Barcelona Convention
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive
  • Water Framework Directive

Lead Author:

Paulo A.L.D. Nunes & Sergio Sastre
Community of European Shipyards Association (CESA)
Date of research: December 2014

Related articles:

Growth model for jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca 

Citizen science on jellyfish blooms

Extreme ecological events and jellyfish outbreaks

Genetic connectivity of Pelagia noctiluca populations

Impact of jellyfish on fisheries and tourism 

Jellyfish ecophysiology, ecology, biology and bioenergetics

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.