Profitability and competitiveness of the saltwater charter fishing industry is becoming more challenging in coastal communities. Adding value with non-consumptive experiences and targeting a broader range of marine tourists may enhance industry sustainability as well as broaden opportunities for public access to marine waters. This study explored industry beliefs about capabilities for implementing new or enhanced services as a means to understand capacity for adding non-consumptive value. Semi-structured interviews and a written self-assessment survey were administered to 43 charter operators licensed in coastal South Carolina, USA during the summer of 2012. Operators gave high ratings to their knowledge relevant to providing outreach on expanded topics, but were less confident about their marketing, networking (within the industry and with the tourism industry), and customer service skills. Consumer demand information was also desired.
For marine resource managers, this research identifies the information most needed for captains to add non-consumptive value. This research also highlights the importance of marine resource managers about understanding the perception of issues for charter boat captains, specifically from a regulatory standpoint. For charter boat captains, this research suggests that most captains would support collaboration between other charter boat captains, local communities, and tourism promotion organizations. However, captains are not well equipped to establish these relationships. Finally, the identification of potential value-added services may be helpful in developing and diversifying the charter boat industry.