21 May

Economic Value of Freshwater Angling

The Environment Agency commissioned an economic valuation of freshwater angling to produce up-to-date, comprehensive and scale-flexible estimates of the economic value of freshwater angling in England.  The Environment Agency needs these values in order to estimate the benefits to anglers from improvements to rivers and lakes in England made by the Agency and partner organisations. The Environment Agency’s ambition was to provide as complete a picture as possible of the total value accruing from work to improve the natural environment, so that planning and investment decisions could achieve the best outcomes for people and wildlife.

The project was split into 2 phases. The first estimated the impact of angling expenditure on the economy in terms of jobs supported and gross value added at local and national levels. The second estimated the non-market values associated with changes in the quality of a fishing site. PJM economics were focussed on the second phase of the project.

The project used an innovative approach that combined two different valuation methods: stated preference and revealed preference. Over 3,000 anglers responded to the stated preference survey, which asked them to choose between different sets of attributes of fisheries. This survey used online and computer assisted telephone interview surveys involving choice cards that showed details of a variety of hypothetical fisheries with different characteristics, variable prices and varying distances from the respondent’s home.

The data on where anglers actually fished (revealed preference) were taken from the first phase of the project, which involved an angling expenditure survey with over 10,000 anglers responding. Data on the attributes of the sites at which anglers fished were then combined with the preference and site choice data to produce estimates of the value of changes in the quality of fisheries around the country.

The outputs from this method were used to develop an Excel spreadsheet tool that provided estimates of both the number of visits that would be switched between sites as a result of changes in the fishery attributes and the number of new visits, and from this the changes in economic value (angler willingness to pay), that would be associated with changes to the fishery.

Improving the quality of fishing sites as measured by three key attributes (fish abundance, fish size and fish diversity) was predicted to lead to an increase in the number of trips made to the site, both from anglers switching away from existing alternative sites and making new or additional visits.

Of these three attributes, moving from low to medium fish abundance was most highly valued by survey respondents.  In terms of fish size, increasing from small to medium was more highly valued than going from medium to large.  In terms of the quantity of fish present, anglers had a higher value for a change from low to medium abundance over a change from medium to high abundance.

The survey also asked anglers about other attributes of a fishing site that were important to them. After having enough space to fish, a clean (no visible pollution) and beautiful environment were considered the most important. Many actually considered them more important than the size and numbers of fish.

Project report 
Academic paper
Presentation at EAERE 2019 Annual Conference, Manchester, July 2019