2018

Many recreational fisheries are managed under regulated open access governed by seasonal closures and bag limits. This approach has often promoted a “race to the fish” with cascades of shorter seasons and shrinking bag limits. These effects have been particularly conspicuous in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) red snapper fishery, where season lengths have fallen to weeks or even days per year. This paper uses data on recreation demand for for-hire offshore fishing trips in the GOM to understand the welfare implications of status-quo management. We estimate a travel cost demand model that focus on intertemporal substitution and incorporate a flexible, individualized approach to measuring how people value their leisure time. We find substantial improvements in angler welfare in moving towards a more efficient and flexible approach – such as a catch share system.