Whale-watching and Herring Fishing: Joint or Independent Production?
The effects of "localized depletion" of a pelagic fishery (herring) on a non-extractive marine activity (tourism) are investigated. Proponents of the localized depletion theory claim that intense fishing effort can lead to areas that are unsuitable for predators like tuna, groundfish, and whales. This leads to poor outcomes for the fishing and whale-watching industries. However, there has been no consensus in the scientific community about the existence of this phenomenon. Localized depletion would be consistent with an economic theory of joint production, in which nearshore herring stocks are an input in production of both herring and whale-watching trips. A unique dataset of daily whale-watching outcomes is combined with fishing effort and oceanographic data. This dataset is used to test the hypothesis that intensive fishing effort increases the search time of whale-watching companies. Our results suggest that while fishing has a statistically significant impact on sightings, this magnitude of this effect is fairly small. Sightings seem to be determined mostly by large scale oceanographic processes. These results should be of interest to policymakers in determining future fishing regulations.
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