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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Developing an Economic Survey of Alaska Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Boat Operators

To assess the effect of current and potential regulatory restrictions on Alaska charter boat fishing operator behavior and welfare, it is necessary to obtain a better general understanding of the industry. Some information useful for this purpose is already collected from existing sources, such as from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) logbook program. However, information on vessel and crew characteristics, services offered to clients, and costs and earnings information are generally not available from existing data sources and thus must be collected directly from the industry through voluntary surveys. Initial scoping and design of the survey was based on consultation with the NMFS Alaska Regional Office, ADF&G, NPFMC, and International Pacific Halibut Commission staff members regarding analytical needs and associated data gaps and experience with collecting data from the target population. In order to address the identified data gaps, AFSC researchers have begun development of a survey of Alaska charter business owners.

The survey is expected to collect annual costs and earnings information about charter businesses and the general business characteristics of Alaska charter boat operations. Types of data that will be gathered through the survey include information about costs and sources for services, equipment and supplies purchased by charter businesses, services offered to clients and associated sales revenues, crew employment and pay, vessel characteristics, and historical fishery participation. In order to refine the survey questions, AFSC researchers conducted focus groups with charter business owners in Homer and Seward in September 2011. The survey is expected to be implemented in 2012, pending available funding, completion of the survey development and testing process, and clearance for the data collection by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Additionally, researchers from other NOAA Fisheries Science Centers have conducted, or are currently conducting, similar surveys of for-hire charter boat operations in other regions of the United States.

By Amber Himes-Cornell, Brian Garber-Yonts, and Dan Lew

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