AGFCfishing for anglers' feedback
Ask some anglers about their latest trip and you may hearstories of fish so large even the photos weighed five pounds, but the ArkansasGame and Fish Commission is asking for some honest feedback in a newmail-in survey being mailed next week. The survey will help identify trends inangling and areas where the resource can be managed more effectively for thebenefit of all Arkansans.
Jason Olive, assistant chief of the AGFCFisheries Division, said this is the first survey of this kind done in Arkansassince 2000.
“We’re sending out 10,000 surveys torandomly selected Arkansas residents who purchased a license in 2016,” Olivesaid. “We sell around 375,000 licenses per year, so the odds of any individualgetting one will be pretty small.”
With only about one in every 40 anglersreceiving a survey, some anglers may ask how the results could be correct, butOlive explains that when done in a scientific manner with randomly selectedparticipants, the results from the sample size will reflect the overallpopulation's answers extremely well.
“As always, we will have public commentperiods later this year for suggestions and input from avid anglers,” Olivesaid. “This survey is meant for all anglers, no matter if they fished one dayor 100. Everyone’s input is critical to paint the whole picture of what thepublic wants and how we can improve how we serve them.”
Ben Batten, AGFC assistant chief, alsopointed out that the survey is being conducted by an outside contractor toensure that the process is handled as scientifically as possible, without anyinfluence from AGFC staff. “It’s important on these sorts of surveys that weuse an outside organization, so that we remain open-minded about any possibleoutcomes,” he said. “And using an outside organization that has a good historywith these sorts of surveys adds a much higher level of credibility to theresults.”
Mississippi State University was chosenamong bids submitted earlier this year to complete the survey work. No in-stateagencies or organizations submitted a bid. “MSU has vast experience in thisfield, conducting these types of surveys for Mississippi, Texas, Florida andPuerto Rico, and will do an excellent job,” Batten said. “But don’t besurprised when you see a Mississippi State logo on the envelope.”
Batten says the survey is the first ofthree that will be conducted in the next few years to gauge trends in anglingand better understand what anglers want when they visit a lake, river or streamin The Natural State.
“This isn’t just about bass anglers ortrout anglers or crappie anglers,” Batten said. “This is about everyone whowets a line in Arkansas, so even if you only went bream fishing once withfriends last year, taking 10 to 15 minutes to fill out this survey will help uslearn how to make that experience better next time.”