The Human Dimensions of the Baitfish Industry: Investigating a Vector for Aquatic Invasive Species and VHS in the Great Lakes Basin

Grant: # 1218

Grant Amount: $18,017.47

Board Decision Year: 2011

Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Burlington, ON CANADA)

Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Mandrak, Nicholas ([email protected]) 905-336-4842

GLFT - Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations-C - Ecological and biological fisheries research to inform management

Project Details

The use of live baitfish for angling and the release of left-over baitfish are potential vectors for the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species should invaders be inadvertently contained within bait catches as bycatch. To reduce the risk of species invasions due to bait activity, the release of left-over baitfish is illegal in most jurisdictions (with some exceptions for harvesting at point of use); however, release persists regardless of the intent or existence of regulations. Using social surveys and multivariate analyses, researchers investigated factors contributing to bait release through perceptions about aquatic invasive species, baitfish, bait disposal, and other factors, such as social norms, convenience, public outreach, and management. Generally, angler perceptions about the risk of bait release varied, likely due to management influence, general misunderstanding about the appearance and impact of introduced species and the role of bait activity in species introductions, and the context-dependent nature of risk for a given angling event.

A predictive model to classify risky versus benign disposal behavior was based on two variables: the convenience of bait release and the perception of released bait as a forage resource for fishes in recipient waterbodies. Results indicate that vector management will be enhanced by targeting social perceptions (i.e., the convenience and forage rationale for 70.5 percent of those who release baitfish). For a subset of vectors (29.5 percent of risk those who release baitfish), behaviors lacked obvious rationale; therefore, regime shifts in pathway management, such as bycatch reduction during harvest, modified commercial distribution networks, and increased reliance on self-harvested fishes at points of use, remain justified to offset the actions of individuals whose behavior may never be understood with certainty and for which targeted outreach strategies are likely ineffective.


Final Report
View - 2011.1218-Fisheries_and_Oceans_Mandrak_Drake_etal_BiolInv_GLFT.docx