Recreational For Hire Survey Results Are In

The lack of recent economic data for the Gulf Recreational For Hire (RFH) fishing industry limits the ability to fully determine the economic and social impacts associated with any regulation that may influence business operations.  This lag in updated economic and policy data prevents fulfillment of Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates which require use of this data.  Specifically, the Act states: 

Conservation and management measures shall… take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities by utilizing economic and social data… in order to (A) provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and (B) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.

A total of 689 captains participated in the survey, providing information on trip and vessel characteristics, financial data, fishing effort, hurricane impacts and opinions on policy issues relevant to their industry. The report compiles and analyzes this data at the state and Gulf level for three vessel classes: head boats, charter boats and guide boats.

“We found that RFH licenses have been generally trending upward for the past decade and that the average business is profitable,” said Rex Caffey, project leader and professor of natural resource economics at Louisiana State University and Louisiana Sea Grant. “Some interesting differences emerge, however, when you look at the data by vessel class.” 

One of the more notable findings is the high number of guide boats operating in Gulf coastal waters. Though relatively small in length – averaging only 22 feet compared to 33 feet for charter boats and 55 feet for head boats – guide boats were found to account for 70 percent of the 3,315 for-hire operators in the region and more than half of the industry’s estimated $215 million in annual dockside revenue. 

Differences by vessel class were also evident in regard to current and pending management policies. Head boat operations were found to be more tolerant of regulations requiring federal observers, mandatory reporting, limited entry and electronic vessel monitoring. Catch share management, however, was generally opposed by operators of all vessel classes. 

This first chapter provides the project’s background and objectives.  Chapter 2 details the methodology employed in the creation and administration of the third Gulf-wide comprehensive economic RFH survey, as well as the process used for data analysis. Results of the study are discussed through descriptive analyses in Chapter 3.  And finally, Chapter 4 summarizes the project and entails conclusions and any future work anticipated.

To view results and report click here: