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A standard method used by fisheries managers to decrease catch and effort is to shorten the length of a fishery; however, data on recreational angler response to this simple approach are surprisingly lacking. We assessed the effect of variable season length on daily fishing effort, measured by using numbers of boat launches per day, anglers per boat, and anglers per day from video observations, in the recreational sector of the federal fishery for red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) in coastal Alabama. From 2012 through 2017, season length fluctuated from 3 to 40 d. Daily effort, measured by using mean number of boat launches per day (coefficient of multiple determination [R2]=0.58) and mean number of anglers per day (R2=0.67), increased linearly with season shortening, indicating effort compression. In 2017, 2 seasons were allowed: an early season (3 d) and an unanticipated late season (39 d). Daily effort decreased during the late season, indicating that effort can also be relaxed if anglers anticipate longer seasons. Model fit for mean number of anglers per day improved with the addition of a daily wind factor (R2=0.94). The results of this study indicate that responses of anglers to changing fishing seasons are dynamic.

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Marine and Environmental Sciences


This article was published in the journal Fisheries Bulletin by the National Marine Fisheries Service - NOAA.

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