Trends in Fishery Agency Assessments of Black Bass Tournaments in the Southeastern United States

Studies conducted during the last 30 years have identified benefits and adverse impacts and have documented increased frequency of fishing tournaments. This study used information provided by state fisheries management agency administrators to measure the frequency of black bass (Micropterus spp.) tournaments in southeastern states and assessed how reported changes in tournament frequency have impacted fisheries management. The average annual number of black bass tournaments reported by 14 southeastern states for 2009-2011 was 41,939, which was a 124% increase from the average annual number of tournaments for all freshwater species reported by southeastern states for 2002-2004. Despite this considerable increase, agencies reported that tournaments were generally beneficial. The highest ranking benefit factors (developed from factor analysis of 21 potential benefits) were unchanged from the same survey administered in 2005 and included the benefits of promotion of fishing, specific fisheries, and agency programs. Similarly, the highest ranking adverse-impact factors developed from 29 potential problems (resource overuse and user-group conflicts) were also consistent with the 2005 survey. Black bass tournaments offer benefits to fisheries management that could be better realized. The persistence and consistently high impact ratings of resource overuse and user-group conflicts along with generally low incidence of monitoring tournaments suggests that the negative impacts have become part of contemporary recreational fishing and are not problems that require management solutions.

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