Modelling the decision making behaviour of coarse anglers in Ireland
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Coarse angling is a vibrant and important aspect of recreational angling in Ireland. Both Irish anglers and tourist anglers contribute directly and indirectly to the Irish economy through their participation in this pastime and sport. In order to increase demand for this activity, as proposed by the national strategy for angling development, an understanding of the drivers of participation must be comprehensively understood. This is the primary aim of this thesis. Efficient enhancement of a site requires an understanding of why one site is chosen over another. Some characteristics may be desirable to anglers, whereas other may lessen the sites’ attractiveness. In chapter 2, site choice models are applied to data using anglers’ own perception of key site attributes to determine which site characteristics play a significant role in site selection. As it is hypothesised that not all anglers will have the same preferences for each site attribute, two different forms of the logit model are used. The first, the conditional logit, assumes homogeneity across preferences. The second, the random parameter logit, allows for variance in preferences of the site attributes. These two models are then compared based on model fit. The results indicate that the surveyed anglers do have heterogeneous preferences, as the random parameter logit presents a better fitting model. The results of the random parameter logit are used to estimate marginal willingness to pay for a change in site attributes, as well as the implications of several policy scenarios. This provides valuable insight into a direction for future coarse angling site development. The effective management and development of Irish coarse angling sites are highly dependent on the correlation between managements’ perspective of the sites and users’ perspectives. If it is the case that management and users perceive sites differently, then even the most value enhancing development policy may be implemented ineffectively. In chapter 3 a comparison is made between the results of a random parameter logit applied to the users-based data and manager-based data. Comparison between the results are made by testing for statistically significant differences of parameter estimates. Following this, new data sets are generated from the user-based data. This new data is used to investigate whether the results of the management-based data closely align with any segment of the user-based data. Analysts of choice data, particularly those using perceived data, often encounter the problem of missing data. The data used throughout the thesis presents with this problem. There are several techniques that can be used to overcome this obstacle. However, a rigorous comparison of these techniques to choice data has yet to be explored. Chapter 4 fills this gap in the literature. Using data with full information, a conditional logit model is applied. The results of this model are used as a benchmark against which the missing data techniques are compared. Data is then generated missing randomly from a subset of the data with full information at three different percentages of missing data. Four missing data techniques are applied to the data sets with missing information; complete case analysis, two forms of mean imputation, and multiple imputations. Following this, conditional logits are applied. Using a host of tests, the results of the conditional logits are then compared to the original results from the data set with full information. Additionally, willingness to pay estimates are generated using each technique to demonstrate the effects of missing data on policy formation. The quality of fish, both size and quantity, at a coarse angling site is assumed to impact fishing participation, measured in days spent fishing per year. However, for Irish based research, both size and quantity are seldom jointly significant. In many cases, only size or number of specimen fish at the site impacts participation. Chapter 5 explores this idea, through the use of the contingent behaviour method. Anglers are asked how their angling participation would change if the number of specimen fish or the quantity of fish increased at Garadice, the most popular of the site of interest. Unlike the models presented in the earlier chapters both Irish and tourist angler data are used. A traditional travel cost model is also applied to determine the drivers of angler participation at Garadice and to examine if there is a difference in willingness to pay for a day spent fishing for the Irish anglers as opposed to the tourist anglers.