Attitudes of South Carolina Youth Towards Aquatic Resources and Recreational Fishing

This study assessed South Carolina youths' attitudes toward, opinions on, knowledge of, and priorities toward South Carolina aquatic resources and recreational fishing. A telephone survey was administered to youth between the ages of 8 and 18 in South Carolina during April 2001 to examine fishing initiation, motivation, and fishing participation rates among South Carolina youth. Overall, a majority of youth (91%) in South Carolina had fished at least 1 time in their lives and a majority (53%) of youth would go fishing more often if they could. More male youths participated in fishing than female youths in the past 12 months, and fishing participation and interest decreased as grade cohort increased. There was also a steady decline in interest level in learning about fishing as grade level increased. Survey results indicated that youth fishing occurs almost entirely in the familial context and initiation occurs almost universally through the youth's father or other male family member. A greater proportion of youth in grades 1-4 (23% relative to 16% in grades 5-8 and 10% in grades 9-12) indicated that they fished “to catch fish.” As age increased, “to catch fish” became an ever increasingly unimportant reason for fishing. Only 10% of South Carolina youth could correctly identify the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as the state agency that managed and conserved wildlife. The results of this study will be used by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop effective aquatic education and fishing programs for youth.

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