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Exploring preference heterogeneity in agent-based models: An application in BC’s recreational Rainbow Trout fishery

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The inclusion of heterogeneous angler preferences could improve recreational fisheries management, yet to date exploration of the influence preference heterogeneity has on spatial patterns of angler effort has received little attention. To address this gap in the literature I developed an agent-based model (ABM) with agent behaviour grounded in a discrete choice experiment (DCE). I applied the agent-based model to the recreational Rainbow Trout fishery in the Omineca Wildlife Management Region, BC, and compared spatial patterns of angler effort and related fishing mortality for four models with varying specifications of preference heterogeneity. My results suggested that accounting for greater preference heterogeneity leads to a concentration of modelled angler effort on a preferred subset of lakes, both for the population and for sub-groups of anglers. Further, my results indicate that changes fishing mortality were not correlated with greater preference heterogeneity, but varied as a result of the changing composition of anglers at each lake site. The modelling approach developed could be used to inform management efforts in the Omineca region, providing insight into the composition and spatial distribution of anglers, in turn furthering efforts to develop group specific fishing experiences.
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