How are we measuring the economic value of recreational fishing?

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The economic value of recreational fishing can be measured in many ways.It includes the dollar value of expenditure on fishing, including:

  • The direct value of expenditure on recreational fishing
  • The ‘flow-on’ or indirect expenditure generated as a result of direct expenditure, for example to accommodation providers, food and retail businesses

In this study, we are measuring both the direct and flow-on value of expenditure on fishing. To do this, we are asking recreational fishers questions in our surveys about how much they have spent on fishing and fishing-related activities in the last year. This gets detailed at times – for example, to ensure we don’t over-inflate the value of recreational fishing, we have to ask people how often fishing is the main purpose of a holiday, versus being a ‘side activity’ that is not the main purpose of the trip. This helps us identify what proportion of spending on that trip can be said to have resulted from recreational fishing versus from other activities.

Measuring the direct and indirect value of spending on fishing is challenging – measuring the intangible benefits of fishing is even more challenging. Measuring this requires first being able to measure these intangible benefits, such as the mental health benefits of enjoyment of fishing, or of relaxing and unwinding during a fishing trip, or connecting socially with friends and family. This measurement can be done in many ways. 

In this study, we are first measuring these benefits in the form of their health and wellbeing benefits. We are then examining whether and how a dollar value can be placed on these benefits, and the likely range of that dollar value. As well as examining health and wellbeing benefits, we are asking fishers about how important fishing is to them and how they value having access to recreational fishing opportunities. Many economic valuation methods can be used to examine this type of question, and understand the relative value of fishing to different fishers. We are exploring these methods as part of this study.

The study is funded by the Australian government and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.