Assessing the Economic Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Selected Industries

Fishing boat off Grand Isle, Louisiana, photo by thepipe26/Flickr

Photo by thepipe26/Flickr Fishing boat off Grand Isle, Louisiana

The Economics subteam is assessing the economic impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf Coastal communities, particularly effects on fishing, seafood processing, and tourism industries. Using publicly available, routinely collected data on landings, revenues, and fishing effort for select fish species, researchers are examining overall impact of the DWH oil spill as well as changes that occurred over time.

Preliminary Findings: What Were the Direct Impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Oil Spill on the Gulf Fisheries Industry?

Econometric analyses suggest that:

  • Short-run negative impacts of the oil spill are primarily due to changes in behavior (effort).
  • Spatial substitution and recovery trends appear to be species-specific, suggesting varying levels of resilience within each fishery. View Summary of Findings » View Full Report »

Monthly Landings, in Pounds by Species (Gulf Data From NOAA)


Conclusions and Next Steps

  • The dynamic path of certain indicators, such as fisheries landings and revenues, can provide information about the resilience of fisheries to oil spill events at the sectoral level, aggregating the various physical, policy, and behavioral responses that combine to form the latent resilience construct.
  • These interim findings can help stakeholders, policy-makers, and researchers define the impacts of environmental disasters over time, understand the dynamics of response, and plan for future uncertain events.
  • CRGC will incorporate information on federal and state water closures, as well as on spill extent and intensity in order to examine variation in effort as well as catch across locations.
  • Researchers will also analyze impacts of the DWH on seafood processing and tourism industries using county-level data.

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Craig Bond, Ph.D.


RAND Corporation

Craig Bond

Craig Bond is an applied economist who specializes in natural resource and environmental economics, including stochastic dynamic modeling, resource valuation, consumer choice, and applied welfare economics. His research interests span the environmental, natural resource, and agricultural economics fields. Bond is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.


Shanthi Nataraj, Ph.D.


RAND Corporation

Shanthi Nataraj

Shanthi Nataraj is an economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research interests include economic development, labor markets, and environmental and resource economics.

Graduate Student

Jacqueline Fiore

Graduate Student and Research Assistant

Tulane University


Jacqueline Fiore is a Ph.D. student in the in Economic Analysis and Policy program with the Department of Economics at Tulane University. She specializes in applied microeconomics and her research interests include health economics, economics of disaster, development economics, and public policy. Recently, she has been working on the economic and health impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Specifically, she is interested in the impact the oil spill had on firms and human mental health outcomes in Gulf Coast communities.