Patterns of Live Baitfish Use and Release among Recreational Anglers in a Regulated Landscape

Margaret C McEachran, Alicia Hofelich Mohr, Thomas A Lindsay, David C Fulton, Nicholas Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The release of live baitfish by anglers has been identified as a high-risk pathway for the introduction of aquatic invasive species due to the potential for invasive fish, invertebrates, or pathogens to be released simultaneously with the baitfish. Consequently, the release of live baitfish is illegal in many jurisdictions, but little is known about compliance rates or angler motivations for illegal release. To assess the incidence of live baitfish release in Minnesota, a state with significant live baitfish use and substantial recreational fisheries, we administered a mail survey to a random sample of 4,000 anglers who held a 2018–2019 annual fishing license and received 671 completed responses. To mitigate potential recall bias, we also administered 345 intercept surveys at water body access sites around the state to ask anglers about their current day’s behaviors. A total of 481 (72%) of the mail survey respondents reported that they used live baitfish, and of those, 98 (20%) reported that they release their leftover live baitfish into the water at least some of the time. Of the anglers surveyed at water body access sites, 59 (19%) were using live baitfish on the day they were surveyed, and of those, 11 (18%) released their leftover baitfish into the water. The reasons anglers provided for releasing their baitfish included convenience and their mistaken understanding that released baitfish benefit the recipient ecosystem. The potential for invasive species introductions through contaminated baitfish releases is high given the reported release rates. However, there is also significant opportunity for management interventions aimed at changing perceptions and providing convenient disposal alternatives to illegal release to reduce the risk presented by this pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalNorth American Journal of Fisheries Management
Volume42
Issue number2
Early online dateMar 9 2022
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge our partners at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for support throughout the project and access to the Electronic Licensing System database for contacting anglers. We would also like to thank the 11 volunteers from the Minnesota Master Naturalist and Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors programs who assisted in administering the intercept surveys. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and the Legislative‐Citizen Commission for Minnesota Resources. The survey described in this report was organized and implemented by the University of Minnesota and was not conducted by or on behalf of the U.S. Geological Survey. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. There is no conflict of interest declared in this article.

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge our partners at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for support throughout the project and access to the Electronic Licensing System database for contacting anglers. We would also like to thank the 11 volunteers from the Minnesota Master Naturalist and Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors programs who assisted in administering the intercept surveys. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and the Legislative-Citizen Commission for Minnesota Resources. The survey described in this report was organized and implemented by the University of Minnesota and was not conducted by or on behalf of the U.S. Geological Survey. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. There is no conflict of interest declared in this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. North American Journal of Fisheries Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Fisheries Society.

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