by D. K. Lew, and J. Lee
In recent years Alaska’s sport fisheries have undergone substantial changes, particularly in the management of the Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) charter fishery. As a result of these regulatory changes, participation in the charter sector Pacific halibut fishery has been capped with a limited entry program, and charter vessel operators in some areas have been subject to size restrictions and bag limits on the catch of Pacific halibut during guided trips, as well as restrictions in recent years on which days of the week guided halibut fishing trips can occur. Additionally, a halibut catch sharing plan (CSP) formalizing the process of allocating catch between the commercial and charter sectors was implemented in 2014 (78 FR 39121). Most recently, a recreational quota entity that would be allowed to buy (and sell) commercial fishing quota shares as an additional means for cross-sectoral allocation is being implemented (83 FR 47819).
In spite of regulatory changes in Alaska’s sport fisheries over the last decade, information about how changes in fisheries management tools affect sport fishery anglers and charter businesses has generally been somewhat limited to date (Lew and Larson 2012, 2015, 2017; Lew et al. 2016). While some information on the Alaska charter boat sector has been collected through the Statewide Harvest Survey and Saltwater Charter Logbook program , data collection has generally been limited to information about angler participation and harvest. Information on vessel and crew characteristics, services offered to clients, and information detailing cost and earnings have generally not been available for study or use in policy analyses.
To address this gap in information, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) developed and implemented the Alaska Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Business Survey to collect baseline economic information about the charter fisheries sector for use in understanding the economics of the charter sector and evaluating the effects of regulatory changes on the sector.