Date of this Version
We conducted a socioeconomic survey and review of existing biological data in an integrated evaluation of current and hypothetical fishery regulations on crappies Pomoxis spp. in Sardis Lake, Mississippi. The objectives of this study were to (1) assess angler acceptance of current and hypothetical harvest restrictions, (2) determine the recreational value of the crappie fishery to its participants, (3) estimate possible changes in recreational value based on angler responses to hypothetical regulations, and (4) integrate the results of the socioeconomic surveys with existing biological information. Using the travel cost method, we estimated mean expenditures at US$29.48 and average consumer surplus per angler per trip at $8.88. We estimated 75,601 crappie angler trips in 1995, yielding an annual consumer surplus for the Sardis Lake crappie fishery of $671,000 and a gross willingness to pay (GWP) of $2.9 million. Hypothetical changes in creel limits would have greater effects on the crappie fishery than would changes in length limits. If a creel limit of 10 crappies/d were implemented, 24,986 fewer angler trips could be expected, reducing both consumer surplus and GWP approximately 33% ($222,000 and $958,000, respectively). Changes in angler trips related to length limits were small (<4%) until a 31-cm length limit was proposed, for which 7,035 fewer angler trips could be expected, reducing consumer surplus and GWP approximately 9% each ($61,900 and $270,000, respectively). Biological evaluations of the effects of length and creel limits suggested they are unlikely to affect crappie populations unless they are much more restrictive than current regulations. Combined, biological and socioeconomic information supported continuing the current 25.4-cm length limit and 30-fish/d creel limit.