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NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-119

Data Needs for Economic Analysis of Fishery Management Regulations

Andrew W. Kitts and Scott R. Steinback
National Marine Fisheries Serv., Woods Hole Lab., 166 Water St., Woods Hole, MA 02543

Web version posted December 18, 2000

Citation: Data Needs for Economic Analysis of Fishery Management Regulations

Information Quality Act Compliance: In accordance with section 515 of Public Law 106-554, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center completed both technical and policy reviews for this report. These predissemination reviews are on file at the NEFSC Editorial Office.

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Executive Order 12866 signed by President Clinton on September 30, 1993, directs regulatory agencies to evaluate, among other things, economic consequences of proposed fishery management regulations and to choose regulatory measures that maximize net national benefits1:

In deciding whether and how to regulate, agencies should assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives, including the alternative of not regulating.  Costs and benefits shall be understood to include both quantifiable measures (to the fullest extent that these can be usefully estimated) and qualitative measures of costs and benefits that are difficult to quantify, but nevertheless essential to consider.  Further, in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, agencies should select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity), unless a statute requires another regulatory approach (President 1993).

The Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (also referred to as the Magnuson Act) also calls for managers to “promote efficiency in the utilization of fishery resources” (Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976), where efficiency is viewed by economists to mean economic efficiency, i.e., maximizing the net national benefits or net economic value from a fish resource2.  At a minimum, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) “Guidelines on Regulatory Analysis of Fishery Management Actions” (NMFS 1995), which guides the regulatory impact review (RIR) process of fishery management plans (FMP), calls for “a full qualitative analysis of expected incremental benefits and costs” from a management alternative.

While all of these regulatory actions focus on evaluating economic consequences of fishery management alternatives, specific economic data needed to meet national efficiency goals have not been identified3.  This document identifies and delineates the overall economic data needed for management of living marine resources; it is intended to help achieve an understanding and coordination of the economic data necessary to capture immediate and long-term consequences of management actions.  This document does not suggest an implementation strategy for data collection, prioritize data needs, or account for the cost of data collection.  While these are topics worthy of discussion, our efforts focus exclusively on identifying economic data needs.


Collection of the data items illustrated in this document are required to achieve three fundamental goals:   

  1. To understand the value of the resource and to recognize its importance to the economy and users.  This involves describing and enumerating ways in which benefits are derived from the resource, measuring capital and labor devoted to those uses, determining the importance of resource use to various users, and describing institutions surrounding those uses.
  2. To measure the flow of net benefits derived from various uses and to understand how those benefits are generated.  This entails technically describing productive activities (i.e., inputs, processes, outputs) in their temporal and spatial setting, measuring costs and benefits (e.g., consumer benefits, industry income) in each transformation, and determining the decision processes of producers.
  3. To preserve, conserve, enhance, and improve the flow of net benefits from the endowment.  This requires utilizing information derived from the above efforts and other information to seek ways to improve the flow of net benefits by reducing costs, defining constraints on use, evaluating tradeoffs among uses, designing improved allocations (or establishing systems that will, e.g., markets), defining minimal acceptable conditions, and exploring and enhancing demand through trade.

Analytical Tools

To achieve these goals, economists rely on economic tools such as cost-benefit, input-output, financial, and trade analyses, as well as descriptive statistics on various economic facets of the resource and those who use it. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is the comparison of gains and losses in net economic value from a regulatory action, where net economic value is the sum of consumer surplus and producer surplus. These surpluses are measured by estimating demand and supply functions for various users of the resource.

Demand functions are estimated using information such as prices and quantities4 of the good under examination, as well as factors that influence demand for a good such as the price of substitutes and available incomes. Supply functions require information on quantities supplied (again using the appropriate units, e.g., pounds of fish or number of recreational trips), output prices, and factor prices and quantities, or on production costs.  Once market models are estimated, net economic values can be measured by summing the surpluses.  Regulatory alternatives are evaluated by comparing the expected net economic value under existing conditions with that expected under a new regulatory framework.

The majority of data elements listed in this document are used in CBA.  However, we also include information useful for descriptive purposes and for input-output, financial, and trade analyses.

Input-output analysis (IOA) is used to assess changes in income, revenues, expenditures, and employment, usually on a regional basis rather than at the national perspective of CBA.  IOA is most often used by manufacturers and industries, and by local and state governments, to determine changes in their market share or tax base, respectively (Edwards 1990).  IOA is not used to address issues of net economic value.  For instance, changes in employment predicted from an IOA are sometimes mistakenly used to argue for changes in net economic value, when, in fact, there may be no relationship.  The kinds of data required for IOA are incomes and expenditures of various economic sectors.  Although some of the data illustrated in this document, such as information concerning dependent industries, could be used to estimate economic impact, IOA and related analyses require substantially more information than is listed herein to describe the technical interactions among the industry, households, and export markets.

Financial analysis takes a closer look at individual players to determine how their behavior is shaped by financial constraints.  Cash flow analysis is one kind of financial analysis that looks at the ability of firms to meet obligations given the amount and timing of cash inflows.  Financial ratios are used to evaluate the financial performance of firms.  In order to facilitate these kinds of analyses, some financial data, such as amounts of assets and liabilities, are needed.

Trade analysis is concerned with how the structure of international markets affects the utilization of domestic resources.  Aspects of trade such as imports and exports can be part of CBA and IOA.  Therefore, trade activity is listed as a data requirement in this document.  To do a complete trade analysis, however, detailed information on tariffs and trade sanctions is required.

Data Collection Deficiencies

At present, many of the economic data needed to analyze economic effects of fishery management regulations are not being collected by government agencies with fisheries responsibilities.  Most data collection systems are almost completely lacking in economic considerations beyond landings and prices.  As a result, economic analyses in RIRs, environmental impact statements, and environmental assessments are generally limited.  Quite often, economists are forced to analyze critical aspects of fishery management decisions with insufficient data or to apply fairly specialized private-sector data and analyses developed under disparate viewpoints and guidelines.

For instance, the sole source of cost data on otter trawl vessels used in the analysis of Amendment 5 of the Northeast Multispecies FMP was tax returns of 51 trawl vessels out of 2,049 vessels holding multispecies permits (Groundfish Plan Development Team 1993).  This small and non-random sample provided the basis for examining fleetwide differences in profits, variable costs, and labor and fixed costs associated with alternative regulatory actions.  Similarly, limited industry data were used to estimate product mixes, prices, and input costs for evaluation of the inshore/offshore allocation decision in the Alaskan Groundfish FMP.  A CBA was required despite limited availability of public-sector industry data.  All offshore cost data were obtained from the American Factory Trawlers Association, a trade group representing the offshore sector (Milon 1993; Herrick et al. 1994).

Another result of insufficient data is that economists are often forced to choose methods that use the available data rather than use a preferred method, because the requisite data have not been collected.  The data needs identified in this document should permit most foreseeable economic analyses.  However, there are methods that require fewer data.  Some of these methods include duality theory5, general equilibrium welfare analysis6, almost ideal demand systems7, and benefits transfer8.  In certain cases, these methods are apropos, and a subset of the listed data could be collected to perform these analyses.  But, in order to establish a long-term, comprehensive system for economically evaluating fisheries, the collection of all data listed herein is essential.  

Data Collection Prospects

Imminent changes in the way the NMFS collects fisheries statistics have prompted a reevaluation of economic data requirements.  Events such as the shift from voluntary to mandatory reporting systems, and national initiatives such as the National Fisheries Statistics Strategic Planning Process, offer an opportunity to assess what information is required by economists to evaluate regulatory alternatives correctly.

Fisheries regulations are continually in a state of flux.  Therefore, it is important to establish baseline economic statistics to evaluate fully the economic effects of management changes.


Renewable marine resources (i.e., wild finfish and shellfish resources, marine mammals, and other aquatic life) are used in different ways and by various user groups. Figure 1 depicts the utilization of living marine resources by various resource uses and the interactions among user groups.  The first level in the figure divides resource use into five use categories:  1) seafood production from commercial harvesting, 2) seafood production from aquaculture, 3) recreation, 4) non-consumptive uses of living marine resources, and 5) subsistence and traditional uses of living marine resources.

Below each resource use category in Figure 1 are various user groups.  User groups classified under seafood production from commercial harvesting are commercial harvesters (including at-sea processors), processors and wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.  The seafood-production-from-aquaculture user groups are identical to those delineated under seafood production from commercial harvesting, except that commercial harvesters are replaced by aquacultural producers9.  Recreation user groups are the provider (e.g., party or charter boat operator) and angler.  Under non-consumptive uses, user groups are the provider (e.g., whale-watching boat operator or diving-boat operator) and ecotourist.  Lastly, subsistence and traditional uses include groups of commercial-type and recreational-type harvesters, including entities with treaty rights.

This section of the document is organized by resource use, user group, and entities of interest.  Each resource use is introduced with a brief discussion of the benefits derived from the resource.  User groups are similarly introduced.  The term “benefits” is defined here as the gross benefits that user groups derive from the resource, not the net benefits that are determined from a CBA in which opportunity costs are considered.

Within each user group there are particular entities for which information needs to be obtained.  For example, in the anglers user group of the recreation use category, there are two kinds of entities:  1) party and charter boat anglers, and 2) “other” anglers (i.e., private boat anglers and onshore anglers).  In addition, for each entity, certain data are needed that represent annual or other periods, such as a trip or a month (i.e., the data period).  Data can be collected every such period, every other period, or within some other interval of periods (i.e., the collection frequency).  For each entity, data can be censused or sampled (i.e., the data coverage).  For example, a sample (data coverage) of economic and related data on individual anglers gathered from daily trip (data period) surveys is needed every 3-5 yr (collection frequency). Table 1 shows how the data are organized and presented in the “Data Categories, Elements, and Collection Schedules” section by resource use, user groups, and entities of interest.

Data elements are specific pieces of information needed to answer economic questions. Table 2 lists and defines data elements within the annual data and other-period data subsections.  In general, annual and other-period data elements are presented similarly across user groups.  In some cases, this strict categorization does not make sense; some deletions and/or additions have been made based on what is sensible for an entity within a particular user group.  Some data elements, mostly identification data, are repeated in an entity’s annual and other-period data because these sets of data need to be linked together.



Economic benefits derived from seafood production from commercial harvesting are:  1) harvest-sector employee incomes and vessel revenues; 2) value added and employee incomes realized in processing, wholesaling, transport, and retailing; 3) consumer surplus11 realized by consumers; and 4) support and supply industry incomes and revenues derived from seafood production from commercial harvesting.  These benefits are augmented at various points by exporting and importing activities.  Additional vessel profits and crew incomes are earned by providing harvesting services in joint venture arrangements and by adding value through on-board processing.

Commercial Harvesters

Benefits  derived from commercial fisheries consist of vessel revenues and crew incomes derived from commercial harvesting of living marine resources (including incomes and profits derived from joint venture arrangements), and of support and supply industry revenues and incomes derived from such harvesting.

Figure 2 illustrates the composition of data elements for commercial harvesters.

Vessel and Related Onshore Facilities

Annual Data

Annual data elements enumerated in Table 3 provide a picture of the financial status of fishing firms and are critical in evaluating how regulations affect investments and fixed costs.  Specifically, this information is needed to:  1) identify producing units and inventory capital, 2) describe benefits, 3) establish financial condition of firms, and 4) identify and describe the support industries related to the productive activity.  The completeness of the description of each firm, the degree to which all firms and vessels involved in the industry are included, and the ability to distinguish vessels in a given fishery are fundamental for evaluating regulations effectively.

There is no substitute for a census of this information every year.  A series of tailored questionnaires could elicit the required degree of detail without unnecessarily burdening any of the firms.   Sufficient information should be obtained to develop representative groups of vessels whose performance can be used in assessing regulatory change.  Cooperative panels (i.e., a representative group of vessel owners willing to provide information) could be developed on the basis of the census data.

Trip Data

Table 4 lists the detailed trip-level data which provide information needed for:  1) measuring major costs of regulations, and 2) describing technical interactions and production relationships.  In addition, the trip-level data provide important daily and set (tow) information (e.g., catch/bycatch by gear, area(s) fished, disposition of landings) required for quota and effort monitoring and in bioeconomic modeling to link catch/bycatch levels to supply-and-demand relationships.

Initially, it is crucial to census fishing activity for every trip in order to design reasonable strata (by time and vessel type) from which subsequent detailed sampling can be conducted.

Processors and Wholesalers

Ideally, one would like to trace the flow of product from the harvest sector to the point of final sale.  Fish are imported or sold from vessels to processors and wholesalers (including truckers) who then process or deliver the product in final form to restaurants, retail outlets, other institutions, and international markets.  Processors and wholesalers are heterogeneous, ranging from large multinational corporations to small cottage-industry firms (such as crab picking).  Information currently available on some of these user groups is sparse.

Processor and wholesaler benefits include plant (firm) revenues and employee incomes derived from transforming the raw product into final form, and revenues and incomes derived from delivery of product (in raw form, processed form, and final product) to retail institutions (both domestic and foreign).  To the extent that support and supply industries are variously related to the supply of specialized inputs to the processing and wholesaling sector (including transportation of product), then revenues and incomes of these industries are appropriately counted in the benefits of resource use.

Figure 3 illustrates the composition of data elements for processors and wholesalers.  

Plants (Firms)

Annual Data

The annual data elements presented in Table 5 provide information to characterize the industry and to examine how its structure and organization change through time.  In particular, these data are needed to:  1) identify firms in the industry, their investments, and their capacities; 2) examine benefits; 3) assess the financial impact of harvest-sector management measures; and 4) assess the importance of international trade.

A complete census of firms, using processor and wholesaler permit applications, is desirable every year in order to identify the population of firms.  Then, the annual data needs could be achieved by either:  1) adding appropriate questions to the applications, or 2) conducting a follow-up survey of the identified population.

Monthly Data

Table 6 presents monthly production and variable cost data which provide the basis for evaluating how costs, profits, employment, and production are affected by management regulations.  This information is used in value-added studies, CBA, and for assessing the financial health of firms.  Production and variable cost information are also important for tracing the flow of product between ports to assess port dependencies and transportation industries.

A census should be conducted every month until a sampling scheme is designed.  


Retail markets are a final point of sale for fishery products.  Data on seafood purchased from restaurants are difficult to characterize because prices are often for a whole meal, not just a fish product.  Additionally, there is usually no choice of quantity, and a visit to a restaurant is made for many reasons unrelated to the price or quantity of fish.  Notwithstanding, benefits consist of revenues and employee incomes derived from the purchase of seafood (in raw, processed, or final form) by consumers, and of revenues and incomes of the support and supply industries providing specialized inputs used in the production of  seafood to restaurants and retail markets.

Figure 4 shows the composition of data elements for restaurants and retail markets.  

Annual Data

The annual data elements illustrated in Table 7 characterize the retail market in terms of number and type of firms, fixed costs, and investments.  These data are needed to assess the financial impact of changes in:  1) supply-and-demand relationships caused by management regulations, including trade policies; and 2) final demand (consumer demand) resulting from changes in seafood preferences.

Initially, a complete census of the retail market is important to identify subgroups for sampling.  Thereafter, sampling should be conducted every 3-5 yr.

Monthly Data

Table 8 illustrates monthly production and cost data which provide the basis for evaluating how changes in supply-and-demand relationships affect the number of customers served, employment, and prices and quantities of transactions by seafood species (including imports).   This information is used in CBA to examine production relationships, and in value-added studies and IOA to trace the quantity and value of fish sales by product form.

A monthly data census should be conducted for 1 yr, followed by sampling every 3-5 yr.  

Seafood Consumers

Benefits derived from consumption of U.S. seafood consist of  consumer surplus realized by consumers in both the United States and in key foreign countries which import substantial quantities of U.S. harvests (e.g., Japan, although Japan’s consumer surplus would not be counted in a CBA of U.S. fisheries).  When total benefits of seafood production from commercial harvesting are measured (i.e., the summed benefits of harvesting, processing & wholesaling, retailing, and consumption) it is important to include consumer benefits because these constitute an essential component of the value that consumers receive from fishery resources.

Figure 5 shows the composition of data elements for seafood consumers.  


Annual Data

Table 9 presents the annual data items needed to identify consumers of seafood, their household characteristics, and their consumer preferences.  This information is useful to:  1) estimate demand models for marketing studies, 2) examine economic effects of seafood contamination on consumers, 3) estimate consumer surplus (consumer benefits) derived from seafood consumption, 4) estimate economic effects of regulations on consumer demand, and 5) estimate economic effects of trade policies.

Stratified sampling, based on census data, at the national level would provide the requisite data.  Surveys should then be conducted every 3-5 yr to capture changes in preferences and international demand.

Daily Data

Table 10 presents daily consumption data which enable researchers to understand the factors that influence the household consumption mix.  These data provide the basis for analyzing how demand relationships are affected by regulations, seafood contamination, trade policies, and tastes and preferences.   Additionally, daily data provide information on direct effects used in IOAs of local or regional income and employment.

To understand daily choices made by seafood consumers, logbook-based studies should be undertaken every 3-5 yr.  Such studies ask participants to record on a daily basis their eating and shopping habits.


Economic benefits derived from the aquacultural industry are:  1) employee incomes and producer revenues derived from the sale of aquacultural products; 2) value added and employee incomes realized in processing, wholesaling, transporting, and retailing; and 3) consumer surplus realized by consumers.  These benefits are augmented by international trade, through either exporting final products or importing inputs to production.  Additionally, aquacultural products provide benefits to the processing, wholesaling, and retail sectors.

Since processors, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers all utilize aquacultural products, data on the use of these products by each of these user groups need to be collected.  Data elements for the user groups in the seafood-production-from-commercial- harvesting resource use category also apply here, but are not repeated.  

Aquacultural Producers

This group covers all types of marine aquacultural operations, irrespective of the production method used or the items cultivated (i.e., fish food, finfish, shellfish, aquatic plants).  It also includes operations such as egg production, smolt production, and fish feed production.

Benefits derived from aquacultural production are revenues and employee incomes from growing, storing, and harvesting finfish or shellfish grown in a controlled environment, and the revenues and incomes of support and supply industries derived from aquacultural production.

Figure 6 illustrates the composition of data elements for aquacultural producers.  

Production Facilities

Annual Data

Table 11 illustrates the annual descriptive, fixed-cost, and financial status information needed to develop aquacultural industry profiles, to perform financial analyses of firms, and to conduct CBA and IOA.

Since aquaculture is becoming increasingly important, a census each year of all aquacultural facilities is required.  

Monthly Data

Table 12 illustrates monthly production activity and variable-cost data needs.  This information contributes to the description of the aquacultural industry, helps in financial analysis of firms, is useful in CBA, and provides information on direct effects for use in IOA.

Initially, a monthly census should be undertaken; thereafter, representative firms might be sampled every 3-5 yr.  

Processors and Wholesalers

See data elements for “Seafood Production from Commercial Harvesting - Processors and Wholesalers.”


See data elements for “Seafood Production from Commercial Harvesting - Retailers.”

Seafood Consumers

See data elements for “Seafood Production from Commercial Harvesting - Seafood Consumers.”


Benefits derived from marine recreational fishing are:  1) crew incomes and producer revenues earned from party boat and charter boat activities; 2) consumer surplus realized by fishermen (anglers); and 3) income, employment, and production by support and supply industries generated from party and charter boat companies (recreational fishing providers), and from boat-owning, boat-renting, or onshore anglers.  


Benefits derived from recreational providers (party boat and charter boat companies) consist of vessel revenues and captain and crew incomes earned from providing recreational fishing trips, including revenues earned from sale of fish and consumer goods (food, drink, tackle, T-shirts, etc.) while on board .  These providers comprise part of the demand for goods and services produced by support and supply industries, thereby generating incomes and revenues in local and regional economies.

Figure 7 illustrates the composition of data elements for recreational providers.

Vessel and Related Onshore Facilities

Annual Data

The annual data elements in Table 13 represent the types of information needed to characterize the industry and to examine how regulations of fishing gear or fishing practices affect the economic value of production.  In particular, data are needed to:  1) examine industry profiles to understand the constituency and organization of economic activity, 2) identify fleet size and inventory capital, 3) conduct financial analyses of firms to predict effects of regulations on solvency,  and 4) assess the direct effects of regulations for use in IOAs of local or regional income and employment.

A one-time annual census of charter and party boats is needed.  Subsequently, sampling should be conducted every 3-5 yr to capture entry/exit behavior.  

Trip Data

Table 14 presents trip-level data needed in describing and evaluating the effects of management regulations on revenues, variable costs, and angler participation.  Trip-level harvest data are essential in quota and effort monitoring, and in bioeconomic modeling to link harvest levels to supply-and-demand relationships (i.e., supply of trips by providers and demand for trips by anglers).  This information is used in CBA to examine changes in production relationships, and in input-output models to estimate changes in income and employment.

Initially, a 1-yr census of each vessel’s trip activity should be conducted to gain baseline knowledge on the fleet of vessels.  Thereafter, annual sampling of homogenous subgroups of vessels (e.g., by type of operation, target species, and geographic area) would be adequate.


Angler benefits consist of consumer surplus derived from the marine recreational fishing experience.  Anglers patronize support and supply industries, thereby generating incomes and revenues in local and regional economies.

Figure 8 shows the composition of data elements for marine recreational anglers.  

Party or Charter Boat Anglers

Annual Data

Table 15 presents the annual data elements needed to examine profiles of marine anglers.  This information is necessary to:  1) identify the population of anglers, 2) identify subsistence fishermen for sociocultural studies, and 3) enumerate and describe the support and supply industries directly related to party or charter boat angler activities.

A census of charter boat and party boat anglers is impractical; instead, a census every 3-5 yr of vessels and trips could be used to estimate relevant economic relationships.  

Trip Data

Table 16 presents angler trip data needed to understand the effects of regulations (e.g., participation and access limits, creel limits, size limits)  on the net economic value of recreational fishing.  Data on harvest, preferences, and variable costs of fishing are used in demand analyses and in CBA to assess how catch rates, fish size, etc., affect demand for charter boat and party boat services.

Economic and related trip data on individual anglers should be acquired every 3-5 yr to determine structural changes or changes in preferences and demand.  Daily intercepts of anglers’ trips on charter boats and party boats would have to be accomplished to obtain trip-level data.

Onshore, Boat-Renting, or Boat-Owning Anglers

Annual Data

Table 17 presents the annual data elements necessary to examine profiles of marine anglers.  This information is needed to:  1) identify the population of anglers, 2) identify subsistence fishermen for sociocultural studies, and 3) enumerate and describe the support and supply industries directly related to fishing from shore or boats (private/rental).

Data should be sampled every 3-5 yr using intercept surveys to examine changes in angler profiles and to estimate relevant economic relationships.  

Trip Data

Table 18 presents angler trip data needed to understand the effects of management regulations (e.g., participation and access limits, creel limits, size limits)  on the net economic value of recreational fishing.  Data on harvest, preferences, and costs of fishing (including boat operating costs) are used in demand analyses and in CBA to assess how catch rates, fish size, etc., affect demand for marine recreational fishing.

Economic and related data on individual anglers could be sampled every 3-5 yr using intercept surveys.  Intercepts of anglers’ trips would also allow estimation of total catch and effort, and an evaluation of structural changes or changes in preferences and demand.


Benefits derived from non-consumptive use are:  1) crew incomes and provider revenues earned from providing non-consumptive activities, 2) ecotourist surplus (i.e., benefits received in excess of viewing costs), 3) support and supply industry incomes and revenues derived from non-consumptive activities, and 4) existence values that may arise independent of use.  


Benefits derived from non-consumptive providers (e.g., whale-watching boats, sightseeing boats, diving boats) consist of vessel revenues and captain and crew incomes earned from providing non-consumptive trips, including revenues earned from sale of consumer goods (e.g., food, drink, binoculars, T-shirts) while on board.  Non-consumptive providers comprise part of the demand for goods and services produced by support and supply industries, thereby generating income and employment in local and regional economies.  

Vessel and Related Onshore Facilities

The annual and trip data required for economic analysis of non-consumptive providers and related activities -- both supply and demand -- would be identical to those already listed for charter and party boat operations, with the obvious omission of fishing gear and harvest information, and a change in emphasis from fishing trips to wildlife observation trips.

An annual census of non-consumptive providers would initially be necessary to enumerate the population of providers and to form a basis for subsequent sampling every 3-5 yr.  


Individuals who receive benefits from their non-consumptive use of ocean resources are defined to be ecotourists in this document.  Ecotourists either rent services of non-consumptive providers, or engage in  non-consumptive activities by themselves (i.e., view or enjoy some aspect(s) of the ocean environment from private boats, personal rental boats, or from shore).

Benefits consist of ecotourist surplus (i.e., non-consumptive consumer surplus) derived from non-consumptive trips, and the incomes and revenues of support and supply industries generated from ecotourist activities.

Figure 9 illustrates the composition of data elements for ecotourists.  

Annual Data

Table 19 presents the annual data elements needed to examine profiles of ecotourists.  Individual and household information is needed to:  1) identify the ecotourist population, 2) provide descriptive data for CBA to estimate effects of regulations on net economic value of ecotourism, and 3) enumerate the support and supply industries for use in IOAs of local or regional income and employment.

Total aggregate participation should be estimated each year from a survey of non-consumptive vessels.  A census of non-consumptive vessel ecotourists is impractical; instead, the census of vessels and trips could be used to conduct a stratified sampling program of ecotourists every 3-5 yr.  

Trip Data

Table 20 presents trip data needed to develop a basic understanding of ecotourism.  Data on  ecotourists’ sightings, costs, and preferences can be  used in demand analyses to determine how marine animal abundance may affect demand for non-consumptive vessel services, and in CBA to estimate effects of regulations on the economic value of ecotourism.

Economic and related data on individual ecotourists might be acquired every 3-5 yr to evaluate possible structural changes or changes in preferences and demand.  Economic data could be collected from add-on questionnaires or from follow-up telephone contacts of surveyed ecotourists.  

Existence Values for U.S. Citizens

Ecotourists, anglers, and even non-users might value the mere existence of living ocean resources and be willing to pay to protect, preserve, or restore them.  In economic circles, natural resource values of this kind are known as existence values, and are wholly independent of use of the resource, whether current or future, potential or actual.  Users of the ocean environment may hold both use and existence values, but non-users by definition can only hold existence values, if any (M.A. Freeman 1993).

Existence value benefits consist of the maximum willingness to pay to protect, preserve, restore, or prevent losses of living ocean resources (e.g., takings of harbor porpoises in gillnet fisheries).  There are no markets for existence values, so valuation techniques such as contingent valuation are typically employed to simulate market bids for preservation, protection, and restoration.

Figure 10 illustrates the composition of data elements for estimating existence values of U.S. citizens.  

U.S. Citizens

Table 21 identifies the annual data elements needed to estimate U.S. existence values associated with preservation, protection, and restoration.  Estimating existence values is typically based on attitudinal and preference surveys.

On a need-to-know basis, households would have to be surveyed randomly by mail or telephone to collect information on existence values.


Economic benefits derived from this user group are:  1) employee incomes and vessel revenues from occasional sales of marine finfish and shellfish, 2) value of the resources consumed by the harvester, and 3) consumer surplus realized by consumers who buy from subsistence and traditional users.

Subsistence, as used by social scientists, can have two meanings:  1) activities by which people acquire the food (and other culturally defined necessities) needed to sustain themselves whether through growing, gathering, catching, bartering, or purchasing (Howard 1989); and 2) a system in which people grow, gather, or catch all food (and obtain all other necessities) solely for their own use and never for sale (Beals et al. 1977; Schultz and Lavenda 1990;  Stearman and Redford 1992).  By the first definition, we are all engaged in subsistence; by the second definition, few are.

In general, individuals or households are engaged in subsistence if:  1) they  cannot afford to buy equivalent protein and other nutritional needs in the market, or 2) the taking of certain  organisms is vital to  their spiritual or cultural life.  Primarily, subsistence fishing consists of catching fish as part of a pattern of resource exploitation that includes fishing, hunting, and the gathering of wild plants.  All of these activities are used to obtain household protein, and/or to acquire species not commonly found at the retail level, but which may be important to traditional meals or holidays of a particular culture.

In this document, subsistence harvesters are defined as those people who either:  1) rely on fishing to supply directly at least part of their dietary needs, and who may or may not also sell small amounts of finfish or shellfish as a vital supplement to their income; or 2) conduct traditional practices under treaty rights.

Those attempting initially to locate and identify subsistence harvesters have a variety of possible sources of information, presumably from the group itself.  Those who fish from party or charter boats can be identified through port surveys of party/charter boat captains, and through questions added to surveys regarding size of catch, species, disposition of catch, income levels, and frequency of outings.  Local conservation law officers can provide additional information, as can federal and state personnel from fisheries agencies and social science researchers familiar with different sections of the coastline.  

Commercial-Type Harvesters with Treaty Rights

Technically, those who fish commercially under treaty rights are defined as engaging in a subsistence use, and therefore are discussed in this section.

All of the data elements associated with the commercial harvesters user group of the seafood-production-from-commercial- harvesting use category apply to commercial-type harvesters with treaty rights.  In addition, the questions in Table 22 are germane in order to assess benefits derived from resources not sold.

Recreational-Type Harvesters with Treaty Rights

While some treaty rights involve commercial fisheries, others involve low harvest levels and non-intensive harvesting techniques.  These harvesters may fall under the small-scale, food-oriented definition.

All of the data elements associated with the anglers user group of the recreation use category apply to recreational-type harvesters with treaty rights, as do the incremental questions listed in Table 22.

Non-Treaty-Right Harvesters

A third group of subsistence harvesters, which overlaps to some degree the recreational fishery, is composed of those people who catch some fish for recreation, but also some for food and/or income.  Some of this third group may fish from party boats.  Many will fish only from shore. Some may be children or the elderly.  Others will be low-income single adults or heads of low-income households.  Some subsistence harvesters will be members of established ethnic/cultural enclaves, recent immigrants, or minorities.  As noted above, these latter two groups (low-income and ethnic/cultural groups) may include crew members of commercial vessels and their families. Often, even when they constitute important populations, these non-treaty-right subsistence harvesters are not recognized by policy and regulatory bodies (Fortmann 1990; M. Freeman 1993).

All of the data elements associated with the anglers user group of the recreation use category, as well as the incremental questions listed in Table 22, apply to non-treaty-right subsistence harvesters.

Members of ethnic/cultural groups who are commercial harvesters without treaty rights are generally indistinguishable from other commercial harvesters, and are therefore not discussed here.  They are not subsistence harvesters by our definitions.  However, some may still consider themselves to be following a traditional lifestyle.  The questions listed in Table 22 are thus applicable to this group as well.

  1. The glossary serves as a reference for all key economic concepts, principles, and analyses identified in bold italics.
  2. See Edwards (1990) for a thorough discussion of economic efficiency, cost-benefit analysis, and input-output analysis as they relate to fisheries resources.
  3. Guides have been developed to assist policymakers in designing and executing economic data collection programs, but most of these efforts describe needs based on only a portion of the entire fishery system -- the harvest sector -- and are generally geared towards small-scale fishery administrators.  See Stevenson et al. (1982), Sutinen and Pollnac (1980), Smith (1979), and Smith (1975).
  4. Prices and quantities should be measured in units appropriate for the particular user group (i.e., fishing trips for recreational fishers, pounds of fish for seafood production, or sightseeing trips for non-consumptive users), or, if measuring derived demand, in units appropriate for the inputs being measured.
  5. For a discussion of duality theory, see Beattie and Taylor (1985) or Chambers (1988).  For examples of duality theory applied to fisheries, see Ward (1991) or Kirkley (1986).
  6. See Thurman and Easley (1992).
  7. See Cheng and Capps (1987).
  8. See USEPA (1993) and Krupnick (1993).
  9. To limit redundancy, the processors and wholesalers, retailers, and consumers user groups are only depicted under the seafood-production-from-commercial-harvesting use category; as shown in Figure 1, these user groups are associated with seafood production from aquaculture as well.
  10. Includes at-sea processors, joint ventures, and directed foreign fishing.
  11. In contrast to other gross benefits illustrated in this document, consumer surplus (defined in the glossary) is a measure of net economic value (i.e., a benefit in excess of costs).  Due to the confusion often associated with the total economic value of consumer benefits (i.e., gross benefits measured by maximum willingness to pay) and the importance of consumer surplus in CBA, we have chosen to use consumer surplus when referring to consumer benefits from consumption or use of a good or service.
  12. See the glossary for definition.
  13. For detailed case studies on managing subsistence fisheries in an industrial context, see Feldman (1981), Hanna and Smith (1993), and Pinkerton and Keitlah (1990).


In preparation for a March 1993 Fisheries Data Needs Workshop, the Economics Investigation at the NMFS’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center identified data needed to carry out various economic analyses of fisheries regulations.  Results of that group effort formed the substance of this document.  The members of the Economics Investigation at that time were:  Patricia Clay, Steven Edwards, Andrew Kitts, Philip Logan, Barbara Pollard-Rountree, Scott Steinback, and John Walden.

We appreciate the helpful Center reviews of Steve Edwards, Jon Gibson, Fred Serchuk, Terry Smith, and Eric Thunberg.


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Stevenson, D.; Pollnac, R.; Logan, P.  1982.  A guide for the small-scale fishery administrator: information from the harvest sector.  Kingston, RI: Univ. of Rhode Island, International Center for Marine Resource Development.

Sutinen, J.; Pollnac, R.; Logan, P., editors.  1982.  Small-scale fisheries in Central America: acquiring information for decision making.  Kingston, RI: Univ. of Rhode Island, International Center for Marine Resource Development.

Thurman, W.N.; Easley, J.E., Jr.  1992.  Valuing changes in commercial fishery harvests: a general equilibrium derived demand analysis.  J. Environ. Econ. Manage. 22:226-240.

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CBA = cost-benefit analysis
FMP = fishery management plan
IOA = input-output analysis
NMFS = National Marine Fisheries Service
RIR = regulatory impact review
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