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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

A Stated Preference Analysis of Marine Recreational Fishing in Alaska

Knowledge of how anglers value their fishing opportunities is a fundamental building block of sound marine policy, especially for stocks where there is conflict over allocation between different sectors. In this work, we estimate how much 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. For more details about the survey, see Lew, Lee, and Larson (2010). Each survey included several stated preference questions that asked respondents to select the option they liked best and least from two saltwater boat fishing trip alternatives and a third non-saltwater fishing alternative. Responses to these questions provide information about anglers' preferences and values for saltwater fishing and the trade-offs they are willing to make between catch, size, and harvest regulations of different species.

Separate fishing trip values were estimated for Alaska resident anglers and non-resident anglers. For single-day trips where one species is caught with catches equaling the allowable bag (or take) limit, Alaska resident anglers had total values ranging from $246 to $444 (U.S. dollars). Non-residents had much higher total values for the same fishing experiences (ranging from $2,007 to $2,639), likely due to the fact that the trips are both less common and considerably more expensive to participate in given the travel costs to Alaska. Non-residents generally had significant positive values for increases in number caught, bag limit, and fish size, while Alaska residents valued size and bag limit changes but not catch increases. The estimated mean net opportunity cost of a day spent fishing ranges from $0-27 for Alaska residents and $309 for non-residents.

By Dan Lew

The Role of Economics in the Bering Sea Pollock Fishery's Adaptation to Climate Change

Seasonal sea ice in the Bering Sea is predicted to decrease by 40% by 2050, resulting in more frequent warm years characterized by reduced winter ice cover and a smaller cold pool (<1.5ºC bottom temperature). Retrospective data from the pollock catcher/processer fishery were used to study the behavior of harvesters in past climate regimes to make inferences about future behavior in a warmer climate. We found that in the pollock fishery, large differences in the value of catch resulting from the pursuit of roe-bearing fish in the winter fishing season result in disparate behavior between the winter and summer fishing season. In the winter season, warm years and high abundances drive more intensive effort early in the season to harvest earlier-maturing roe. In the summer season, a smaller cold pool and high abundances are correlated with decreased effort in the northern reaches of the fishing grounds. Spatial price differences are associated with changes in the distribution of effort of approximately the same magnitude. Although biological evidence suggests that the predicted increased frequency of warmer regimes may result in decreasing abundances, the historical data is insufficient to predict behavior in warm, low abundance regimes. This study provides insight into the economic drivers of the fishery, many of which are related to climate, and illustrates the difficulty in making predictions about the effects of climate change on fisheries with limited historical data.

By Alan C. Haynie and Lisa Pfeiffer

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