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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Halibut Sport Fishing Survey Update

To assess the impacts of potential regulatory changes on sport angler behavior, it is necessary to have estimates of the baseline demand for halibut fishing trips and an understanding of the factors that affect it. To this end, Drs. Dan Lew and Doug Larson (University of California, Davis) developed a survey to gather data for estimating demand and understanding angler preferences for Alaska saltwater sport fishing. The survey collects information about an anglerís 2006 Alaska sport fishing activities (primarily saltwater fishing activities) and preferences that will be used to estimate two types of economic models.

The first model is a recreation demand model that will explain decisions about the sites chosen and the number and types of saltwater sport fishing trips demanded by Alaska resident and nonresident anglers. This model will utilize information about angler behavior collected in the survey including the sites fished, number of trips taken, types of fishing trips taken (charter boat, private boat, or shore fishing), catch, and costs.

The second model will estimate preferences for saltwater fishing trips using responses to survey questions that ask individuals to choose between several hypothetical fishing trips that vary in key characteristics (e.g., species targeted, catch, limits, and cost). Responses are analyzed within a statistical framework that models the choice between those available in each question. In this framework, the effect on preferences and behavior of changes to policy variables such as daily bag limits can be assessed. Combining the information from this stated preference model with the recreation demand model to yield improved estimates will also be explored.

The models will be estimated for each of three angler groups:  Southeast Alaska resident anglers, other Alaska resident anglers, and nonresident anglers. Southeast Alaska anglers will be treated as a distinct group due to the differences in saltwater sport fishing opportunities in Southeast Alaska relative to the rest of the state.

The survey is currently being fielded. At the end of January, the questionnaire was mailed to a stratified sample of 4,000 Alaska resident and nonresident anglers who were licensed to sport fish during 2006. To maximize response rates for this voluntary survey, several follow-up mailings were and are being conducted, in addition to a telephone contact. The data collection is expected to conclude by May, with data analysis following shortly thereafter.

By Dan Lew

Fishing Revenue, Productivity, and Product Choice in the Alaskan Pollock Fishery

Dr. Ronald Felthoven at the AFSC has been working with Professor Catherine Morrison Paul and Marcelo Torres at the University of California, Davis on a paper to examine the way in which economic performance in the pollock catcher-processor fleet has changed over time and in response to the American Fisheries Act (AFA).

In this paper we use a flexible revenue function that allows consideration of interactions among all its arguments, including inputs (crew, vessel characteristics, and fishing methods) and environmental factors (weather), to evaluate production and economic performance in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock fishery. This rich framework results in a wide range of estimates reflecting the contributions of market, technological, regulatory, and environmental factors to revenue, productivity, product supply, and input shadow values.

We find significant supply responsiveness to own- and cross-product prices, as well as to inputs (such as crew numbers and tows) and external factors. In particular, our estimates show that increasing days fished and towing duration during each season, and to a lesser extent the number of tows, have augmented fishing revenues by contributing to the production of deep-skin (higher quality) fillets and roe.

In reverse, these estimates imply that increasing prices of roe and deep-skin fillets have significantly increased the value of inputs used in fishing, especially tow numbers (for roe) and duration, but also crew and vessel size. These patterns are consistent with the industry perception that the change to a quota-based fishery has reduced the pace of fishing and processing effort, permitting greater flexibility and facilitating lucrative product choice and quality changes.

We also find a significant residual upward trend in revenues that indicates increasing economic productivity, and is substantially greater post-AFA. This productivity growth is strongest over the whole period for both types of fillets but increasing the most rapidly (and to the highest level in terms of its marginal contribution to revenue) for roe. It also has contributed to higher shadow values of inputs, including especially tows and crew. This paper will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal this spring.

By Ron Felthoven

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