In March 2021, FWC sent an online survey to saltwater fishing stakeholders to learn more about interactions with marine predators during fishing activities. Stakeholders had 12 days to take the survey (March 15-26).
The survey was 17 questions long and took about 3-5 minutes to complete. At the start of the survey, respondents were given the following definitions:
- Here, the experience of a “predator interacting with your catch” refers to any time a predator such as described below engages with your catch. This includes stealing the fish from your fishing gear or eating fish you have returned to the water.
- Here, the term “predator” refers to any predator that you are not specifically targeting or trying to catch at that point in time.
Examples include (but are not limited to) dolphins, pelicans, goliath grouper, and sharks. Respondents were then asked to answer the survey questions with respect to their saltwater fishing experiences in Florida in the past 12 months. The survey included “skip logic” so that people who had not fished last year or who had not had an interaction with a marine predator were sent to the end of the survey (and not asked the questions about their interactions). Those who had experienced these interactions were directed to a series of detailed questions to learn more about their experiences.
Questions that asked respondents to identify the predator(s), how they interacted with their catch, action(s) taken in response, and those about how they were fishing when these interactions happened (what gear(s) used, where they were fishing, what they were targeting) all allowed respondents to select more than one response option. For the charter respondents, questions were asked about interactions with their or their customers’ catch.
Who was sent the survey:
The survey was sent to 40,802 randomly-selected saltwater private recreational license holders as well as all charter (2,094) and commercial (6,974) license holders who had provided an email address with their license application. Those who did not have email addresses in the licensing system or who did not have a fishing license (for example, those exempt from license requirements) were not part of the sample pool for this survey.
The responses therefore cannot be assumed to represent everyone who is fishing in Florida; instead, this survey allows us to explore the general characteristics of these interactions and their potential impact on people’s fishing experiences.
A total of 3,509 private recreational (henceforth referred to as recreational in this document) anglers, 1,166 commercial fishers, and 358 charter captains/guides (including headboats) filled out the online survey. Most respondents had a predator interact with their catch while saltwater fishing during the past 12 months, though the proportion was higher for charter and commercial fishers (Table 1).