The economics of recreational fishing management

Using recreational fishing data to identify the determinants
of anglers’ site choice and values

The management of recreational fishing is a source of controversy in many jurisdictions. Those who are interested in conservation argue that governments are not doing enough to protect fish and fishing sites.

Angling communities, on the other hand, argue that recreational fishers are more responsible than conservationists suggest, and that their activities generate significant economic and social benefits.

Governments try to balance the interests of these two groups but with very limited information about the trade-offs involved. In some instances the trade-offs can be imagined rather than real, as it is possible that some conservation measures that curb fishing are also useful to the anglers themselves (Gao and Hailu, 2011).

There are many questions that need to be answered:

  • What are the non-market benefits of recreational fishing?
  • What values do recreational fishers attach to different types of fish?
  • What determines a person’s ability to catch fish? Can these be modelled?
  • What do recreational fishers appreciate or value besides fish?
  • What possible options are available for managing recreational fishing? And which of these are more attractive than others?
  • How can one evaluate the spill-over effects of a management strategy? Would focusing only on hot spots be a wise strategy?

The purpose of this project is to answer questions similar to those listed by using observed or surveyed data.

You would develop fish catch rate and random utility model (RUM) to derive values.

These models would then be used to evaluate management strategies in terms of effects on fishing destinations and welfare effects on anglers.

If these models are coupled with ecological or fish stock models, it would be possible to take into account feedback effects and assess strategies in terms of both socioeconomic and ecological outcomes (for example Gao and Hailu, 2011).

Such an approach would provide useful information for resource managers and others concerned about how fish stocks are managed.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Suggested readings

Research team leader: Associate Professor Atakelty Hailu

I am an agricultural and resource economist with research interests in several areas: efficiency and productivity analysis; agriculture and land use policy; recreational fishing; water and environmental policy; bushfire and natural hazards management; and auction design. My research tools include econometric analysis, stochastic frontier models, data envelopment analysis (DEA), whole-farm and other bio-economic models, and agent-based simulations of economic behaviour.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • Good background in microeconomic theory or fisheries science, with a strong interest in learning new econometric models.
  • The analysis will require the use of statistical/econometric software.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.