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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Energy Policy (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Mark D. Rouleau

Committee Member 1

Audrey L. Mayer

Committee Member 2

Shan Zhou

Committee Member 3

Casey J. Huckins


The ongoing influxes of Sargassum seaweeds in the Atlantic Ocean have threatened marine ecosystems and coastal fisheries in West Africa. As a result, the affected countries have adopted periodic seaweed cleanup policies to protect their marine ecosystems and coastal livelihoods. The goal of this dissertation is to better understand the economic implications of seaweed cleanup and the policy process to inform the design and implementation of sustainable seaweed cleanup policies in West Africa.

Chapter 1 introduces the background and organization of this dissertation. Chapter 2 addresses the first research question (what are the drivers and estimates of willingness-to-pay (WTP) for seaweed cleanup in Ghana?) with a contingent valuation study. Chapter 2 reveals the socio-economic drivers of WTP and predicts household WTP for seaweed cleanup in Elmina, Ghana. Chapter 2 can inform funding for seaweed cleanup policies, and support benefit transfers and cost-benefit analyses for coastal conservation policies in developing countries.

Chapter 3 addresses the second research question (what are the long-term impacts of alternative seaweed cleanup policies on fish stocks and landings in Ghana?) by conducting policy experiments with an agent-based model. Chapter 3 reveals that a partial seaweed cleanup policy could maximize fish stocks and landings in the long-term, although the uncertainty regarding the interactions between seaweeds and fish causes a bifurcation in policy recommendations. Chapter 3 can assist scientists and fishery managers to estimate the costs and benefits of alternative seaweed cleanup policies to fisheries sustainability and assess the impact of uncertainty on policy decisions.

Chapter 4 addresses the final research question (what are the gaps and scientific benefits associated with the integration of policy process theories in the environmental, natural resource and energy policy fields?) with a systematic review. Chapter 4 discusses how theory integration has expanded our knowledge about the behavior of policy actors, and research questions that should be addressed to advance the fields. This chapter can assist policy actors in the affected countries to successfully navigate the complex policy process by which seaweed cleanup policies will be adopted and implemented in West Africa. Chapter 5 concludes with contributions and ideas for future work.