Fishing location choices in Oregon trawl fisheries : are fishermen risk-averse or risk-prone? Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/4b29b819c

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  • Despite the fact that fishing is an inherently uncertain business, risk has rarely been formally recognized in fisheries science or management. Few fishery management plans include any form of risk assessment and those that do focus on minimizing risk caused by uncertainty associated with markets and environmental conditions. Fishermen's attitudes towards risk, whether they are risk-neutral, risk-averse, or risk-prone, have rarely been considered. Although fishermen's attitudes towards risk have been shown in theory to have an impact on fish populations, none of the previous investigations precisely identified whether fishermen are risk-neutral, risk-averse, or risk-prone. This research attempted to identify fishermen's attitudes towards risk from an analysis of their decisions about where to fish. The research applied risk-sensitive foraging theory to an analysis of data from the Oregon trawl fishery for 1991. The data were provided by the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. One file contained tow-by-tow information for each fishing trip on landings by species, time spent fishing, type of gear, and fishing locations. A corresponding file contained trip-by-trip information on landings and price by species. The two data files were screened for inconsistencies and then classified into small homogeneous categories based on port, fishing gear, fishing area, and boat size. Various variance-discounting models were fitted to each category to determine fishermen's attitudes toward risk. The models describe the expected utility of fishing at a given distance from port as a linear function of the mean, variance, and third moment of the dollar value per hour of the retained catch. The unknown parameters were estimated from the data using logistic regression techniques. The results of the analysis indicated that in two of fifteen categories the fishermen were risk-averse, and in four categories they were risk-neutral. However, for the remaining nine categories the results were inconclusive and in some cases the fishermen's choice of fishing locations appeared illogical. Instead of preferring fishing grounds that generated higher profits, it appeared that fishermen actively avoided such grounds. The inconclusive and sometimes illogical results may have been due to inappropriate assumptions about the data and about the factors motivating fishermen's decisions. Additionally, there might have been some factors that could have affected the analysis which this research overlooked. For example, this research only accounted for monetary rewards, but fishermen may have preferences other than revenues and costs that influence their choice of fishing grounds.
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