Do Trade Bans Protect Endangered Species? Evidence from the World’s First Possession Ban

Guest Speaker: John Lynham, Economics Department, University of Hawaii

Venue: ESRI, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2.

Seminar Topic:

There have been growing calls to legalize the trade of endangered species in order to better protect them. In theory, prohibition of trade drives up prices and could be accelerating the path to extinction but this claim has never been evaluated empirically. Evaluation is hampered by the difficulty of collecting data on an illegal activity and finding appropriate counterfactuals for the 183 countries that currently support prohibition. In 2010, the state of Hawaii adopted the world's most stringent ban on the trade of shark fins: physical possession of fins became a crime that could lead to imprisonment. Prior to the ban, fishers in Hawaii were allowed to sell the fins of sharks caught "accidentally". Using a unique panel dataset that follows the primary group of fishers and an unaffected counterfactual group before and after the ban went into effect, the speaker will present research which quantifies the effect of the ban on Hawaii's shark population.

Speaker Bio:

John Lynham is an Associate Professor in the Economics Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  He is also a UHERO Research Fellow, the Director of the Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate program and an Affiliated Researcher at the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University. His research interests are in environmental/resource economics, marine ecology and behavioural economics.

About the ESRI Seminar Series

The ESRI organises a public seminar series, inviting researchers from both the ESRI and other institutions to present new research on a variety of public policy issues. The seminar series provides access to specialised knowledge and new research methodologies, with the objective of promoting research excellence and facilitating productive dialogue across the policy and research fields.