Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Maria Estevanez

Second Committee Member

Manoj Shivlani

Third Committee Member

Juan Agar

Fourth Committee Member

Jill Richardson


This project serves as a component of the NOAA Habitat Blueprint Biscayne Bay Habitat Focus Area (BB HFA), a multidisciplinary collaborative effort encompassing research conducted by NOAA Florida Sea Grant, Miami Waterkeeper, and the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, amongst many other institutions and organizations. Water quality in Biscayne Bay is of major concern to tourism, recreation, fisheries, and other regional economic activities. In recent years, environmental indicators such as harmful algal blooms have brought to light the threat human activity poses to Biscayne Bay resources. To ensure the conservation of Biscayne Bay species and ecosystem services, it is necessary to recognize the economic risks associated with water quality degradation. It is also important to understand industry perception of water quality and capacity to adapt to changing conditions. The purpose of the BB HFA Economic and Spatial Study was to economically characterize marine-related industries in Biscayne Bay. This Master’s Thesis, part of the Economic and Spatial Study, focused specifically on commercial, recreational, and for-hire fisheries, as well as seafood wholesalers that source from the bay and recreational businesses that depend directly upon a healthy Biscayne Bay, such as SCUBA and snorkel operators. Data for the recreational fishing sector was collected via online surveys, distributed via email addresses provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In-person, semi-structured interviews were conducted for all willing participants in the commercial and for-hire fishing sectors, fish wholesale industry, and recreational water operations industry. Participants were asked questions about personal demographics, resource use, economic expenditures related to resource use, and perceptions of water quality. Using survey and interview data, socioeconomic and resource use profiles were constructed for each focus industry. Current water quality conditions and changes in water quality as perceived by industry stakeholders were described, as well as stakeholder adaptation strategies in the face of changing water quality conditions. Finally, stakeholder perceptions of water quality were analyzed based on industry and tenure to determine if these factors influence stakeholder attitudes. In the face of threats such as harmful algal blooms and pollution from nuclear power plants, this information is critical to policymakers and industry participants alike. Aggregate results are publicly available in the mapping portal integrated into the study’s website. The mapping portal produced from this research provides endless applications for Biscayne Bay research and policy. This project, in combination with data from the SECOORA Data Catalog, FWC data, and additional NOAA Habitat Blueprint studies, is designed to serve as a critical component in ensuring the longevity of Biscayne Bay fisheries and recreational water operations, as well as a swimmable, fishable, drinkable bay.


Biscayne Bay; socioeconomics; spatial analysis; fisheries