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The potential impact of aquatic nuisance species on recreational fishing in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi and Ohio River Basins

Ready, Richard C., Poe, Gregory L., Lauber, T. Bruce, Connelly, Nancy A., Stedman, Richard C., Rudstam, Lars G.
Journal of environmental management 2018 v.206 pp. 304-318
basins, economic valuation, fisheries, fishermen, game fish, hydrology, models, sport fishing, travel, watersheds, waterways, Great Lakes, Illinois, Mississippi River, Ohio River
Concern over the potential transfer of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) between the Great Lakes basin and the Upper Mississippi River basin has motivated calls to re-establish hydrologic separation between the two basins. Accomplishing that goal would require significant expenditures to re-engineer waterways in the Chicago, IL area. These costs should be compared to the potential costs resulting from ANS transfer between the basin, a significant portion of which would be costs to recreational fisheries. In this study, a recreational behavior model is developed for sport anglers in an eight-state region. It models how angler behavior would change in response to potential changes in fishing quality resulting from ANS transfer. The model also calculates the potential loss in net economic value that anglers enjoy from the fishery. The model is estimated based on data on trips taken by anglers (travel cost data) and on angler statements about how they would respond to changes in fishing quality (contingent behavior data). The model shows that the benefit to recreational anglers from re-establishing hydrologic separation exceeds the costs only if the anticipated impacts of ANS transfer on sport fish catch rates are large and widespread.