Exploring the Relationship between Fishing Regulations and Angler Compliance in Virginia

Abstract

Accurate geographical awareness, species identification, and recognition of seasonal legal variations are typical constructs of fishing regulations. The combination of these factors makes understanding regulations a challenge, thus, making it difficult for anglers to abide by the law. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the relationship between angler fishing specialization, knowledge of fishing regulations, and compliance on two popular waterways in Virginia. An online survey was used to collect data from a sample of 326 licensed Virginia anglers. Two hypotheses were tested based on the regulatory knowledge of the anglers, their fishing specialization, and the likelihood they would comply with fishing regulations. Contrary to the hypothesized relationship, it was found that more specialized anglers had less regulatory knowledge. However, support was found between regulatory knowledge and angler likelihood of compliance. Limitations of this study, future research, and policy implications are also discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This time frame is arbitrary and was used as part of a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) by the authors to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

  2. 2.

    Fishing without a license is illegal and a form of poaching. Ideally this is a target population for wildlife research. However, the population is difficult to identify and observe for research. Instead, in the present research, licensed anglers are examined to measure their understanding of the regulations and likelihood they comply with the regulations.

  3. 3.

    Included in the final samples for each research hypothesis are the participants which completed the full survey. Partial survey attempts are not included in these samples due to issues with list-wise deletion.

  4. 4.

    Some questions were included as measures to report to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries while others were highly skewed in the observations observed and, therefore, not appropriate for the chosen analyses.

  5. 5.

    Current fisheries regulations from the specified sampling timeframe were used to test the likelihood which the participants would comply. It should be noted that regulations change frequently, and the questions used in this research instrument may no longer be adequate.

  6. 6.

    A test for collinearity among three variables used in the logistic regression, 1) knowledge, 2) familiarity lake, and 3) familiarity river was conducted. The VIF values for each variable were below 5 indicating that no issue with collinearity exists among the variables.

  7. 7.

    While McFadden’s pseudo R2 is not directly comparable to R2 values for linear regression, McFadden’s pseudo R2 is one of the better comparisons (Long and Freese, 2014).

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Correspondence to M. Dylan Spencer.

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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Body of water names and locations within the instrument have been censored to protect participant privacy

  1. 1.

    Have you ever fished Lake or the River in Virginia?

    1. a.

      Yes

    2. b.

      No

  2. 2.

    How confident are you in identifying the upstream boundary of Lake?

  3. 3.

    How did you learn how to fish? Check the most influential option.

    1. a.

      Self-taught

    2. b.

      Friend

    3. c.

      Family member (please specify which one)

    4. d.

      Fishing guide or business

    5. e.

      Other (please specify)

  4. 4.

    How often do you fish? Choose the answer that is closest for you.

    1. a.

      Never

    2. b.

      Every few years

    3. c.

      Once a year

    4. d.

      Several times a year

    5. e.

      Several times a month

    6. f.

      Several times a week

    7. g.

      Daily

  5. 5.

    Which method of fishing do you do most often?

    1. a.

      Spin fishing

    2. b.

      Bait cast

    3. c.

      Fly fishing

    4. d.

      Cane pole

    5. e.

      Trolling

    6. f.

      Other (specify)

  6. 6.

    What species of fish do you try catching most often?

  7. 7.

    How familiar are you with the fishing regulations in the River and Lake?

  Not familiar at all Slightly familiar Moderately familiar Very familiar Extremely familiar
River
Lake
  1. 8.

    How well of a job do you think the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries does of making the fishing regulations for the River and Lake known?

  Poor job Bad job Decent job Good job Excellent job
River
Lake
  1. 9.

    With regard to fishing regulations in the River and Lake, there are ______ (of) fishing regulations

  Too few The right amount Too many
River
Lake
  1. 10.

    Which state is upstream from Lake?

    1. a.

      North Carolina

    2. b.

      West Virginia

  2. 11.

    How likely are you to keep the specified catches in the River?

  Extremely unlikely Somewhat unlikely Neither likely nor unlikely Somewhat likely Extremely likely
Keep a 13-in. Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass
Keep a 15-in. Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass
  1. 12.

    How likely are you to keep the specified catches in Lake?

  Extremely unlikely Somewhat unlikely Neither likely nor unlikely Somewhat likely Extremely likely
Keep a 13-in. Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass
Keep a 15-in. Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass
Keep a 19-in. Walleye or Saugeye downstream from Lake Dam
Keep a 19-in. Walleye or Saugeye on June 1
Keep a 19-in. Walleye or Saugeye on May 31
Keep an 18-in. Walleye or Saugeye downstream of Dam in County to Lake Dam during February.
  1. 13.

    How many times have you accidentally or intentionally broken fishing laws in the River and Lake?

  River   Lake  
  Never 1–5 6–10 11–15 16+ I don’t know Never 1–5 6–10 11–15 16+ I don’t know
Accidentally broken fishing laws
Intentionally broken fishing laws
  1. 14.

    Mark whether or not the following scenarios are legal or illegal for the River and Lake

  River Lake
  Legal Illegal I don’t know Legal Illegal I don’t know
Keeping a 13-in. Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass
Keeping a 15-in. Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass
  1. 15.

    Mark whether or not the following scenarios are legal or illegal

  Legal Illegal I don’t know
Keeping a 19-in. Walleye or Saugeye downstream from Lake Dam
Keeping a 19-in. Walleye or Saugeye caught in Lake on May 31
Keeping a 19-in. Walleye or Saugeye caught in Lake on June 1
Keeping an 18-in. Walleye or Saugeye caught in the River downstream of Dam in County or in Lake during February
  1. 16.

    What is your age?

  2. 17.

    What is your sex?

    1. a.

      Male

    2. b.

      Female

  3. 18.

    What is your race?

    1. a.

      White

    2. b.

      Black or African American

    3. c.

      American Indian or Alaska Native

    4. d.

      Asian

    5. e.

      Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

    6. f.

      Other (specify)

  4. 19.

    What is your income?

    1. a.

      Less than $10,000

    2. b.

      $10,000–$29,999

    3. c.

      $30,000–$49,999

    4. d.

      $50,000–$69,000

    5. e.

      $70,000–$89,000

    6. f.

      $90,000–$149,999

    7. g.

      More than $150,000

  5. 20.

    What is your highest level of education you have completed?

    1. a.

      Did not complete High School

    2. b.

      High School/GED

    3. c.

      Associate’s Degree

    4. d.

      Bachelor’s Degree

    5. e.

      Master’s Degree

    6. f.

      Advanced Degree (J.D. or Ph.D.)

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Spencer, M.D., Green, E.K. & Bolin, R.M. Exploring the Relationship between Fishing Regulations and Angler Compliance in Virginia. Am J Crim Just (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-020-09576-8

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Keywords

  • Compliance
  • Fishing
  • Regulation
  • Wildlife crime