Evaluating Anglers Responses to Catch Restrictions: An Application to Atlantic Striped Bass

Keith Evans Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor of Marine Resource Economics University of Maine

ABTRACT

This project is proposed to the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) as a means of understanding how changes in recreational fishing catch restrictions influence striped bass fishing mortality, angler welfare, angler effort, and future biomass levels. The research is timely since implementation of the 2015 measures have caused concern among recreational anglers and fishing communities that the changes were too restrictive. Many fishermen allege that the 2015 measures have led to significant losses for anglers and for-hire businesses. Ultimately, our results will help managers and researchers better understand how different policy measures affect anglers’ incentives to engage in recreational fishing, and how those effects depend on anglers’ characteristics.

A choice experiment will be employed and a predictive model of changes in angler behavior resulting from changes in proposed management actions will be constructed. The proposed choice experiment (CE) research design is currently the most widely employed recreational fishing behavioral modeling approach found in the literature. The CE design mimics real choice environments and provides arguably more accurate predictions than other stated preference methods. The CE approach was employed successfully in 2009 and 2014 by the Social Sciences Branch (SSB) at the NEFSC for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock, and we propose to build upon those efforts for striped bass. To determine how regulations affect striped bass biomass, the estimated behavioral model parameters will be incorporated into biological, age-structured, sub-models, following the framework developed by Min-Yang Lee and Scott Steinback of the SSB at the NEFSC (Lee and Steinback, 2015). Our results and methodology will build upon and ameliorate this approach to bioeconomic modeling for striped bass fisheries management.