The purpose of this study is to investigate the economic value of fish (Nile Tilapia) in Lake Hawassa and determine the factors affecting the households’ willingness to pay for a quality improved fish product. The survey was conducted through face-to-face interview of 467 households consuming fish caught from the lake. The respondents were aware on the poor quality of the fish due to domestic and industrial effluents discharged into the lake. The consumers stated their preferences on quality improved fish product with the mean value of Birr 57.76 per kilogram, which was equivalent to USD3.20 per kilogram during the survey period. The analysis on the determinants of willingness to participate in the fish quality improvement program shows that education, annual income, frequency of fish consumption, marital status and multiple use of the lake influence the participation on the quality improvement program positively while family-size, residential-land and employee negatively influence the participation on the quality improvement program. The valuation of quality improved fish product shows that households who are aware of the poor quality of the lake, residential-land owners and those who earn high annual income are more likely to attach higher monetary value for the quality improved fish product. Therefore, identification of such variables and their relative importance in the valuation helps to obtain households who are willing to pay maximum level for the fish quality improvement.
Key words: Contingent valuation, fish, Heckman model, Lake Hawassa, willingness to pay.
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