Accommodating a Diverse Constituency: A Case for Tournament Anglers'

As anglers become more specialized in their pursuits, management agencies need to develop specialized programs to accommodate the needs and desires of these groups to keep them as active participants and license buyers. Black bass (Micropterus spp.) tournament anglers are among a state fishery agency's constituents. To accommodate this group, regulation exemptions could be granted that allow tournament contestants to temporarily retain more than their legal daily creel limit or possess fish within a restricted slot length limit until after the weigh-in. I provide examples from 3 state agencies that considered, but did not provide tournament exemptions, and 2 agencies that developed successful exemption programs. Positive aspects of granting exemptions include regulatory control that could reduce user conflicts, educational opportunities leading to increased survival of released fish, improved communications with tournament organizations, and increased economic benefits accrued to local communities from tournament activities. These benefits must be weighed against possible increased mortality of caught bass that might compromise management efforts, agency administrative and personnel costs, and the objections from non-tournament anglers of granting a small portion of the constituency special privileges.

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