Factors related to angler compliance in a black bass fishery, James River, Virginia
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An on-site interview and mail survey questionnaire of anglers on the James River, Virginia, was conducted to compare the characteristics of anglers, estimate angler compliance and illegal harvest, and determine the factors related to angler compliance with a black bass slot length limit regulation of 280 to 356-mm (11 - 14 in) and a daily creel limit of five bass. Boat and bank anglers differed significantly in yearly tackle expenditures, travel distances, knowledge of existing regulations, and species preference. Angler compliance with the slot limit averaged nearly 85% for the entire river, while angler compliance with the creel limit was over 99%. The total illegal harvest of black bass averaged approximately 10% of the total bass harvested. Comparisons between known complying anglers and known non-complying anglers showed differences in daily bait expenditures and yearly tackle expenditures. Non-complying anglers had a yearly tackle expense that was one-half that of complying anglers, and a daily bait expense that was more than twice that of complying anglers. All other characteristics were similar. Comparisons between anglers who knew the regulations and those who did not showed differences in species preference and yearly tackle expenditures. For fishery managers, understanding the factors related to an angler's probability of complying will be an important criteria when establishing or changing fishing regulations. By understanding those factors that cannot be manipulated by managers and serve only as predictors of compliance (i. e., angling methods), and those factors that can be modified (i. e., regulation knowledge), managers should better comprehend angler behavior.
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