The Pacific Blue Marlin stock supports both recreational and commercial
fisheries throughout their Pacific-wide distribution. The commercial component of
the fishery imposes a greater fishing mortality on the stock but the recreational
component may be more economically dependent on the continued health of the
fishery (Orbach 1989). The recreational or sport component of the blue marlin
fishery generates large incomes for tourist-based coastal communities. It was
estimated that the half dozen annual billfish tournaments held in Kailua Kona,
Hawaii generate several million dollars a year for the local community (Gaffney per.
comm. 1991). This high dependence on the blue marlin fishery by the sport
component suggests that any future billfish management in the U.S. may become
primarily an economic, social and political issue and the conservation issue may be
considered secondary (Orbach 1989).
Questions that must be addressed to help fisheries managers establish
appropriate management measures include, "what is the recreational value of a blue
marlin and what is the best use of the resource?" Society must determine if blue
marlin are worth more when saved for the recreational experience or harvested for
the use as food. Determining a first order value of a single fish, if harvested for
consumption, is dependent on the price the fish will bring at the market.
Establishing an accurate system to estimate the value of a blue marlin saved for the
sporting experience is highly complex. To calculate this, a dollar value must be
placed on abstract factors such as the aesthetic value of being out on the ocean, or
the value of having an opportunity to fight a large billfish. Samples and Schug
(1985) estimated charter patrons contributed $39.4 million to the Hawaii charter
fishing industry as a result of their demand for overall charter fishing experiences.
If the direct and indirect expenditures were included in the evaluation, charter
patrons contributed $52.4 million to the Hawaii economy. The blue marlin
contribution to these estimates are unknown. However, this same study also showed
blue marlin was the most desired species sought after by the charter patrons.
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