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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Estimating Economic Values for Saltwater Sport Fishing in Alaska Using Stated Preference Data

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Jan-Feb-Mar 2012
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Knowing how anglers value their fishing opportunities is a fundamental building block of sound marine policy, especially for stocks for which there is conflict over allocation between different uses (e.g., allocation between recreational and commercial uses).

This study reports on the results from an analysis of stated preference choice experiment data related to how recreational saltwater anglers value their catches and the regulations governing them of Pacific halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis, Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, and coho salmon O. kisutch off the coast of Alaska.

The data used in the analysis are from a national mail survey conducted during 2007 of people who purchased sport fishing licenses in Alaska in 2006. The survey was developed with input collected through several focus groups and cognitive interviews with Alaska anglers, as well as from fishery managers.

Each survey included several stated preference choice experiment questions, which asked respondents to choose between not fishing and two hypothetical fishing trip options that differ in the species targeted, length of the trip, fishing location, trip cost, and catch-related characteristics (including the expected catch and harvest restrictions).

Responses to these questions were analyzed using random utility maximization-based econometric models. The model results were then used to estimate the economic value or willingness to pay that nonresident and Alaska resident anglers place on saltwater boat fishing trips in Alaska and assess their response to changes in characteristics of fishing trips.

The results show that Alaska resident anglers had mean trip values ranging from $246 to $444, while nonresidents had much higher values ($2,007 to $2,639), likely reflecting the fact that their trips are both less common and considerably more expensive to take. Nonresidents generally had significant positive values for increases in number of fish caught, bag limit, and fish size, while Alaska residents valued size and bag limit changes but not catch increases.

The economic values are also discussed in the context of allocation issues, particularly as they relate to the sport fishing and commercial fishing sectors for Pacific halibut. A comparison of the marginal value of Pacific halibut in the two sectors suggests that the current allocation is not economically-efficient, as the marginal value in the sport sector is higher than in the directed halibut fishery in the commercial sector, which suggests that economic efficiency would increase if the sport sector were to have an increased allocation.

Importantly, the results are not able to provide an estimate of how much allocation in each sector would result in the most efficient allocation, which requires additional data and analysis to fully estimate the supply and demand for Pacific halibut in each sector.

By Dan Lew and Doug Larson
 

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