Fostering sustainable recreational fisheries through informed management decisions: A revamped approach for collecting data from white sturgeon anglers

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Off-site recreational fishery surveys, when compared to on-site surveys, allows fisheries managers to contact a larger sample over a wider spatial scale at a lower cost. However, off-site surveys are prone to nonresponse bias. Nonresponse bias is known to have adverse effects on sample estimates and can erode the leverage of benefits provided by off-site surveys. I explored nonresponse bias in an off-site survey administered to estimate annual total effort and catch in British Columbia’s lower and middle Fraser River white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recreational fishery. I explored biases associated with survey mode and response rate. I further used¬¬ simulation modeling to determine how sample size affects both survey costs and estimates’ accuracy. I found that nonresponse bias arose from anglers’ participation rate and to a lesser extent from anglers’ catch. Anglers who did not fish were less likely to respond. Simulation modelling showed that sample size in the first phase of contact could be reduced by 40%, while holding the follow-up contact at current sample size, and still produce accurate results. Generally, results show that nonresponse bias affected off-site survey estimates even in a relatively small group of specialized anglers.
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