Researchers Identify Ways to Improve Sportfishing
New York Coastlines, Fall 2010

In a time when “tourist” anglers, those from out-of-state, are less likely to travel long distances to fish, researchers from two NYSG-funded studies agree that increasing the fishing activity of residents along New York’s Lake Ontario shoreline is especially important to sustaining the region’s coastal businesses.Earlier this year, findings from one project were published in the Tourism in Marine Environments journal article “Assessing the Economic Importance of Recreational Fishing for Communities along Lake Ontario.” This article, based on 2007-09 research from Cornell University’s Tommy L. Brown (now retired) and Nancy A. Connelly, synthesizes results from a 2007 survey that found tourist anglers spent $43 million in communities along the Lake’s shoreline. The estimated indirect and induced economic impacts of those recreational fishing expenditures to shoreline communities were on the order of $60 million and were associated with approximately 1,000 jobs.

“Essentially, we assessed the last 30 years of data on human and biological factors that affect angler effort in order to develop the best possible understanding of what has most strongly influenced the Lake’s fisheries,” said Connelly. The team then modeled those factors to forecast the next three to five years of angler effort, estimated at a loss of 32% over five years. “Armed with this information, local communities can choose to be proactive and try to counteract the trend predicted by the model,” said Connelly.

For example, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation biologists suggested that some anglers have adjusted their fishing techniques to catch more bass. Bass, which are in great abundance, feed in part on the plentiful round goby, an invasive species that anglers catch more times than they would like to. “If other anglers are able to change and adopt these new techniques,” Connelly suggested, “harvest of bass could increase, perhaps reducing the predicted decline from 32 to 19%.” Although this would still result in a predicted loss of $11 million and 196 jobs, it’s considerably less than the $19 million and 330 jobs estimated if no action were taken. Additional strategies for increasing sales revenues might be targeted at trout and salmon anglers to further reduce downward trends, since they make up a large percentage of Lake Ontario anglers.

In a current two-year investigation, researchers Diane Kuehn and Valerie Luzadis, and Sea Grant Scholar Matthew Brincka at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY are targeting 7,000 residents who fish within the seven counties bordering Lake Ontario. “We’re providing information to coastal businesses and tourism promoters about the fishing preferences and motivations of Lake Ontario resident anglers that can be used to help increase fishing activity,” said Kuehn.

Preliminary data indicate that, of the responding anglers who identified a preference for a type of fish, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are the preferred species to catch. “Because of its existing popularity with residents, bass fishing provides an excellent opportunity for businesses and tourism promoters to tap into the large resident market group,” said Kuehn. Redirecting promotional and business efforts to further increase the activities of these anglers, therefore, is key.

Further analysis is underway to estimate the percentage of residents who fish or may be interested in fishing in the future, the fishingrelated expenditures of resident anglers in 2009, and the factors that motivate and constrain the fishing activities of resident anglers. A Sea Grant fact sheet containing the results of the study will be available next summer.

—Paul C. Focazio

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