Angler survey undertaken by DEC

Staff report

Albany – A statewide angler survey will provide data that will
shape DEC’s fisheries management for the next 10 years, DEC
Director of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources Gerald Barnhart
says.

The survey is being conducted, he added, largely because it’s
simply time to gather that information.

‘We try to do one every 10 years,’ Barnhart said. ‘It gives us
good information on angler participation and fishing effort, as
well as what species they’re pursuing and what’s important to them,
whether it’s catch-and-release or harvest.’

DEC officials announced last month that the survey will be
conducted statewide by Cornell University. It will be implemented
in three phases, with 17,000 questionnaires to be sent out in June,
October and December.

‘New York has an extremely diverse freshwater fishery, providing
a wide range of angling opportunities,’ DEC Commissioner Pete
Grannis said. ‘Surveys such as these provide anglers with the
opportunity to tell us what their preferences are, what we can do
to better manage our freshwater fishery resources, and how we can
improve the opportunities these resources provide. We hope that
those anglers who receive a survey take the time to carefully
review, complete and return it.’

The last angler survey was conducted in 1996, and an updated
study is necessary because of the numerous changes in angler
participation and desires, fish populations, and DEC’s management
efforts that have occurred statewide over the last decade. The
information provided by the survey will allow DEC to respond to
these changing angler desires and attitudes.

More than 50,000 anglers randomly selected from the DEC’s
Automated Licensing System (DECALS) will be receiving
questionnaires. Researchers from Cornell University’s Human
Dimension Resource Unit sent out the first grouping of surveys in
early June.

‘(The survey) will provide the raw information we use to shape
our program for the next 10 years,’ Barnhart said. ‘It’s our
equivalent of a marketing survey.’

Barnhart said the survey will also allow DEC to develop a list
of the 50 most popular waters in the state in terms of angler
attention. That list will almost assuredly include Lake Erie, Lake
Ontario, Lake Champlain, several of the famed Catskill trout
waters, the St. Lawrence River, Hudson River and many of the Finger
Lakes.

New York’s fishing is generally regarded as some of the finest
anywhere, ranging from the Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing to
saltwater opportunities off Long Island.

‘It’s incredibly good,’ Barnhart said. ‘With the diversity of
opportunities and the quality of the fishing, you could say it’s as
good as any state in the nation, in my mind.’

Still, DEC officials are concerned that angler numbers have
declined in recent years despite that outstanding fishing. The
survey may give some indication as to why.

Questions regarding the angler survey can be directed to Shaun
Keeler or Stephen Hurst in the DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries at (518)
402-8920.

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