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ASA releases Comprehensive Angler Access Study

The simple fact is that if anglers can’t access the water they will be driven from the sport.

There are a lot factors that drive a person’s decision to go fishing. The study for ASA by Responsive Management looked at those decisions with an eye toward helping guide programs to improve angler access.

Durable decisions on access must be based on facts, not conjecture. This study is an important step toward understanding the attitudes of anglers, landowners and land management professionals.

For Immediate Release

Mary Jane Williamson, Communications Director, mjwilliamson@asafishing.org

703-519-9691, x227, www.asafishing.org

Comprehensive Angler Access Study Has Surprising Results

Industry leaders will address a wide-range of sportfishing issues

Alexandria, VA – July 7, 2010 – Results of a recent comprehensive angler access study by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and Responsive Management – 2010 Angler Access in the U.S. Report – reveal some surprising views by anglers, private landowners and professional fish and wildlife managers who make decisions regarding angler access. Interviews were completed with more than 4,000 landowners and more than 4,100 recreational anglers. This is the first study of its kind to include landowners that have water on, adjacent to or running through their property to document their assessment of angler access. The most important finding is that two-thirds of anglers access most of their fishing from public lands with about half of those anglers primarily fishing from private boats, this includes both fresh and saltwater.

The five major findings in the study are:

•    Public lands are important to anglers as a means to access places to fish.

•    Angler access is tied to boating access.

•    Fish and wildlife professionals are concerned about angler access.

•    While liability is an important issue for landowners, a landowners’ privacy is the most important reason why they don’t open their land to more people.

•    Landowners are generally unaware of the many programs that agencies and organizations have to help them create access on their property.

“The most important finding in this study is the predominant role that public lands and access to public lands plays in anglers being able to enjoy their sport,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “That is crucial information for our state and federal fish and wildlife and land managers and must be taken into account for budgeting and planning purposes.”

Robertson further said, “Access is consistently identified as the top issue of concern among anglers and the study reveals that if anglers can’t access areas to recreationally fish, they may desert the sport.”

Mark Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, emphasized, “This is a thorough and definitive study of angler access in the United States. Agencies and organizations interested in angler access will find this and invaluable resource.”

Other highlights of the study include:

•    92 percent of landowners approved of legal recreational fishing and believe it is important for the public to have the opportunity to do so.

•    About one-half of landowners fish on their own property and two-thirds allow access to those people they know.

•    Approximately one-tenth of landowners allow completely open access to their lands.

•    Approximately 1 percent of private landowners charge an access fee to anglers.

•    64 percent of recreational anglers access their primary fishing areas from public lands while 16 percent use private lands.

•    54 percent of recreational anglers seek areas with boating access.

•    54 percent of anglers surveyed cited that as their primary source of information about where to fish is word of mouth.

•    The survey found that 89 percent of landowners say they have not experienced problems with recreational anglers in the last five years.

“Anglers have long been viewed as conservationists and generally as good citizens,” said Robertson. “It is encouraging to understand from the survey that almost 90 percent of landowners have not experienced problems with recreational anglers over the past five years.”

The study was conducted under a multi-state conservation grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and administered by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

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The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice speaking out when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also represents the interests of America’s 60 million anglers who generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for over one million people.

Responsive Management is an internationally recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues and has been conducting research on anglers and fishing-related issues for 20 years. Its mission is to help natural resource agencies and organizations better understand and work with their constituents, customers, and the public. Utilizing its in-house, full-service mail and telephone survey center with 50 professional interviewers, Responsive Management has conducted more than 500 telephone surveys, mail surveys and focus groups. It has extensive experience in conducting scientific surveys on fishing participation, fishing motivations, anglers’ preferences, and opinions on fishing regulations and other fisheries management issues. For all studies, Responsive Management follows the highest standards in conducting mail surveys, telephone surveys, focus groups, and personal interviews to ensure accurate, unbiased results.

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