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Decision making in a mixed commercial-recreational fishery for Atlantic bluefin tuna Public Deposited

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  • Stated choice random utility frameworks are a valuable tool for eliciting the preferences of fishermen. In typical applications, choice outcomes are known prior to choice selection, which may confound results when outcomes are uncertain. To evaluate the importance of uncertainty in decision making, we applied a contingent sequential stated choice survey to bluefin tuna fishermen off the U.S. east coast who possess a permit allowing them to fish either commercially or recreationally on a trip-by-trip basis. Given the fishery’s complex size- and sector-specific quota structure, understanding how fishermen utilize this unique permit’s flexibility is needed to reduce management uncertainty and maintain equity within and among sectors. Respondents completed an online survey that included fishing trip choice scenarios in which they were asked to make multiple sequential choices regarding fish disposition, with the recognition that each decision might impact future choice sets on that trip. A random parameters logit model with correlated random parameters was used to identify key factors governing disposition decisions, evaluate the impact of inertia (habit formation) versus opportunism, and examine preference heterogeneity. Respondents who indicated that they primarily fished commercially were more likely to exhibit inertia than primarily recreational anglers, while fishermen were significantly more likely to harvest opportunistically in some regions than in others. Furthermore, the model suggests that disposition probabilities for fish of a given size could vary by more than 60% depending on exogenous fishery and regulatory factors. Findings can be used to predict future harvest patterns and maintain landings within internationally prescribed limits.
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  • Seattle, Washington, USA
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