Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



North American Journal of Fisheries Managemetn



First Page


Last Page



The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus is the target of a recreational fishery along the U.S. East Coast that is thought to be of considerable economic value. In some years, recreational landings have exceeded the sector’s annual subquota due to changes in fish availability, limited predictability of angler effort, and difficulties in realtime monitoring of catch. Understanding the drivers of angler behavior is critical for predicting how effort and harvest may vary as a function of changing fish availability, regulations, or costs. To investigate angler decision making, preferences, and values, we surveyed private recreational anglers from Maine to North Carolina and employed discrete choice experiments to determine how regulatory and nonregulatory trip-specific variables influence trip-taking behavior. A latent class-ranked log it model identified two distinct classes of anglers who exhibited differing preferences in regard to the importance of nonconsumptive aspects of Bluefin Tuna fishing (e.g., catch and release). Income and recent Bluefin Tuna targeting were the primary determinants of class membership, and higher-income anglers who had targeted Bluefin Tuna in the past 5 years were significantly more likely to be in the class that derives substantive benefits from nonconsumptive angling activities. An annual consumer surplus exceeding US$14 million was estimated for the 2015 fishery. We considered potential angler welfare impacts of possible management changes (compensating surplus) and identified a large amount of latent effort currently present in the fishery in the form of consumptive-oriented anglers. As a result, liberalization of harvest regulations could potentially lead to a large influx of effort into the fishery, which could impede the ability of managers to maintain harvest levels within prescribed limits.