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Economic Valuation of the Inland Bays

The Delaware Inland Bays contribute significantly to Sussex County’s booming coastal economy. Serving as a home for a variety of commercially important species (e.g., fish and crabs) and offering numerous outdoor recreational activities and breathtaking sceneries, it is no wonder why the Bays attract thousands of new residents and visitors to the region each year. 

With populations on the rise throughout the county, understanding the economic value of the Bays is critical for making smart decisions and investments towards clean water, waterway management, and new market opportunities. Therefore, the Center in collaboration with the University of Delaware Water Resources Center launched the Economic Valuation of the Inland Bays project in 2019 with the primary goals of identifying and quantifying the value of the economic activity related to the Bays.

Using the best available analytical model for calculating economic impacts, the following measures were considered for the project:

  1. Value of real estate on or near the Inland Bays
  2. Value of the major industries
  3. Change in the value of resource-related industries over time (where possible), including:
    1. Commercial and recreational fishing and shellfishing, including aquaculture 
    2. Boating (sales and boater registration)
    3. Real estate
    4. Hotels and lodging
    5. Eating and drinking
    6. Amusement
    7. Hunting & wildlife watching
    8. Tourism
  4. Return on investment for implementing the Inland Bays Pollution Control Strategy and Waterway Management Activities by comparing their annual estimated cost to the estimated annual economic output of the Inland Bays.

The project is intended to be used by diverse audiences, including decision-makers, business leaders, and the public, and serve as the first step to establishing a repeatable and cost-efficient method for estimating the direct, indirect, and induced economic values related to the Inland Bays over time.  Project partners include Sussex County, Delaware Sea Grant, coastal towns, and the University of Delaware Water Resources Center.

Photography by Neil Parry