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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Cost and Earning Estimates of the Alaska Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Sector

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Oct-Nov-Dec 2013
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AFSC researchers developed the Alaska Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Business Survey to collect information on costs, revenues, employment, and services offered from saltwater sport fishing charter businesses in Alaska.  The survey was conducted between April and July 2012 by the AFSC and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.  A total of 667 charter guide license holders (businesses) who participated in the charter logbook program and were active in 2011 were contacted by mail and asked to fill out a paper or online questionnaire.  Of those contacted, 191 participated in the paper or online survey.  (Some preliminary sample estimates were reported in the Jan-Mar 2013 Quarterly Report.) However, the overall response rate of 28.6% (191 out of 667 license holders) was lower than expected and necessitated several adjustments be made to generate reliable population-level estimates of costs, revenues, and employment.  Adjustments were made using well-established techniques, namely, sample weighting and data imputation methods (Brick and Kalton 1996), that rely on using auxiliary information about the population to adjust for both individuals who did not respond to the survey and incomplete surveys.  In this case, the auxiliary data about the population of charter businesses came from the Alaska charter halibut permit (CHP) logbook data.  Details about the specific methods used are contained in a paper by Lew, Himes-Cornell, and Lee (2013).

The analysis focused on generating estimates of the population totals and means (averages) for variables related to annual expenditures, employment, and revenue.  This analysis uses a sample size of 174, since 17 respondents could not be correlated to the CHP logbook data and, hence, were dropped for the analysis.  Multiplying the sample size by the mean will not necessarily lead to the total presented since means and totals were estimated separately using stochastic data imputation methods that led to some data points being different in the calculation of the mean compared to that for the total.  Differences may also arise due to rounding errors.


  • Expenditures: Expenditures totaled $46.8 million (standard error (SE) = $1.83 million) in 2011.  The mean total expenditure across all cost categories in 2011 is $268,705 (SE = $10,280).  For mean and standard deviations of major expense categories in 2011, see Table 1.
Table 1.  Expenses incurred by Alaskan charter fishing businesses in 2011.

Expense category
total (millions)
Standard error of total (millions) Population
Standard error
of mean
Charter trip-related $11.0 $0.71 $63,017 $4,101
Labor-related $8.5 $0.33 $48,986 $1,887
General overhead $14.8 $0.60 $85,007 $3,457
Vehicles, machinery, and equipment $5.5 $0.44 $31,681 $2,525
Buildings, land, and other real estate $7.0 $1.19 $40,014 $6,831
  • Employment:  The total estimated number of full-time and part-time employees hired for the early season, main season, late season, and off-season during 2011 are presented in Table 2.
Table 2.  Estimated number of workers in the Alaskan charter fishing industry by season and type in 2011
(standard errors in parentheses).
  Vessel operators and guides On-board crew On-shore employees
  Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
Early season 119.91
Main season 231.64
Late season 164.07
Off-season 37.98
  • Revenue:  Across all revenue categories, the mean revenue is estimated to be $214,349 (SE = $6,496) in 2011.  Total revenue in 2011 was $36.1 million (SE = $1.12 million).  Table 3 presents the means and standard errors for several revenue categories.
Table 3.  Revenue earned by Alaskan charter fishing businesses in 2011.

Revenue category
Population total
Standard error of total
Population mean Standard error of mean
Charter fishing trips – direct payments from clients $27.1 $0.81 $144,964 $4,703
Charter fishing trips – payments from booking agent or service $3.4 $0.25 $19,345 $1,426
Non-fishing charter trips $5.0 $0.68 $30,310 $3,949
Client referrals/booking commissions $0.5 $0.07 $2,723 $398
Federal charter halibut permit sales income $1.3 $0.29 $8,837 $1,664
Federal charter halibut permit lease income $0.00055 $0.00015 $380 $84

In addition, the AFSC has recently finished collecting data for the 2012 fishing season, which will soon be analyzed.  The population-level estimates generated from these surveys provide baseline information about the economic conditions of the charter boat sector and will be subsequently used to analyze the economic impacts of changes in the charter boat sector.

By Dan Lew and Amber Himes-Cornell


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