Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Fisheries economists typically assume recreational anglers make decisions that maximize individual angler utility, which may depend on fishery and regulatory conditions. Under this framework, changes in regulations can lead to target species substitution by anglers in response to shifts in expectations of trip utility. A stated preference survey was developed and distributed to recreational cobia (Rachycentron canadum) anglers in Virginia to explore the effects of regulatory change on angler decision-making, species targeting, and resulting economic outcomes. The survey included a series of hypothetical choice scenarios, where respondents were asked to select their most preferred alternative after being presented with different fishing trips targeting cobia,red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), or summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus). Seven regulatory treatments of the survey were distributed, providing anglers a variety of species targeting tradeoffs. A mixed logit model was usedto estimate angler preferences associated with hypothetical trip attributes and regulatory environment. Changes in angler welfare resulting from changes in cobia regulations were then assessed. Anglers were found to prefer targeting cobia to red drum or summer flounder under status quo management. Increases in catch, average weight of catch, and legal harvest of cobia were also found to provide anglers greater improvements in triputility compared to increases in these attributes for trips targeting red drum or summer flounder. The economic effects of regulatory change were asymmetric because restrictive regulations were found to reduce angler welfare whereas liberalizing regulations had no significant effects. Increased availability of alternative target species was found to dampen the negative welfare effects of restrictive cobia regulations due to predicted target species substitution by anglers.
recreational fisheries, random utility model, target species substitution
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Scheld, Andrew M.; Goldsmith, William M.; White, Shelby; Small, Hamish J.; and Musick, Susanna, Quantifying the behavioral and economic effects of regulatory change in a recreational cobia fishery (2020). Fisheries Research, 224, 105469.