Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 Massachusetts Saltwater Angler Study

An innovative economic study underway in Massachusetts will measure the value of the recreational saltwater fishing experience by surveying anglers who hold a 2012 Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit.

Most economic studies of saltwater recreational fishing estimate the number of jobs and the amount of sales and income supported by the spending of saltwater recreational fishermen in the state, but have not included the value anglers themselves place on being able to go saltwater fishing.

The resulting data will allow researchers to validate and improve frequently used economic evaluation methods by gathering data from anglers themselves about the value they place on recreational fishing, a topic Steinback has studied for about 20 years.

The survey is being managed by an independant statistical analysis and survey research firm for NOAA Fisheries Service and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, which maintains the state’s recreational saltwater fishing permit registry.

Massachusetts is providing a list of randomly selected recreational fishing permit holders who will be mailed the survey. Participation is voluntary and individual information is confidential.

NOAA Fisheries has allocated $145,000 to conduct the study, about $75,000 of which is set aside for cash incentives being offered to 500 of the 1,900 randomly selected permit holders to help determine the value people place on access to saltwater angling. 

The survey involves three “treatments” or survey approaches. The first treatment, being mailed to 500 people, includes a written survey plus an actual check in an amount ranging between $15 and $500 that can be cashed in exchange for the recipient giving up their Massachusetts saltwater angling permit for the remainder of 2012.

The second treatment, being mailed to 700 anglers, includes a survey with hypothetical cash incentives offered in the same varying amounts as those offered in the first treatment but without an actual check in that amount enclosed. The third treatment, being mailed to 700 people, includes the same survey but asks the recipient what amount they would be willing to pay; the amounts to choose from are the same as those in the other treatments.

The first surveys were mailed February 23, 2012 and will continue monthly through May. Those receiving the survey are notified in advance of the initial mailing to explain the importance of the study, why it is being conducted, and who is conducting it.

Those who receive checks can cash them at any time during a specified time period, approximately 45 days after they receive the check, but in return are asked to give back their 2012 permit. Mailings remind recipients to think carefully before responding.

Steinback and other NOAA economists will compare the rates of acceptance between the real and the hypothetical offers to evaluate differences between the approaches and to, ultimately, calculate the total dollar value anglers place on recreational fishing in Massachusetts waters.

source: NOAA press release

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