Fishing Activities and Economic Impacts of Charter Boat Businesses on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

We conducted a study of recreational fishing and economic activities of charter boat operators along Mississippi's Gulf Coast to determine their local and statewide economic impact in 2001. Mail questionnaires received (N = 36) from charter boat operators included information on sport fish species pursued, locations fished, number of trips and number of clientele entertained, gross revenues collected, expenditures incurred, and number of employees hired in 2001. Sport fish species or species groups that were most pursued in descending order of preference were sea trout (Cynoscion spp.), snapper (Lutjanus spp.), redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus) mackerel (Scomberomorus spp.), and sharks (Carcharhinus spp., Sphyrna spp., Isrus spp., Rhizoprionodon spp.). Captains reported open saltwater, offshore shipwrecks, oil rigs, sandbars off barrier islands, and inland shipwrecks as the top five locations fished during charter trips. Charter boat captains offered half-, full-, and multiple-day fishing trips with the latter yielding the greatest mean gross revenue annually (US$49,300), while more clients fished in the full-day arrangement (¯x = 280 clients/year). The charter industry generated a total economic impact of $5.9 million to $6.7 million to the State of Mississippi and $5.3 million to $6.0 million to the three coastal counties of Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson. Information gained through studies of this type that identify economic benefits of fish and wildlife recreation and associated ecosystems that support species of interest, can be used by natural resource managers and policymakers to develop strategies for the pragmatic conservation of important coastal ecosystems.

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