Managing User Conflicts on Reservoirs Supporting Striped Bass or Hybrid Striped Bass Fisheries
Steve L. McMullin
Abstract.—Managers of reservoirs that support striped bass Morone saxatilis or hybrid striped bass fisheries face conflicts among angler groups and between anglers and other reservoir users. Striped bass anglers frequently want more striped bass stocked in reservoirs while anglers who seek black bass Micropterus spp., crappies Pomoxis spp., and other species often see striped bass as predators or competitors with the species they desire to catch. Anglers also share these reservoirs with recreational boaters, including personal watercraft users, often resulting in conflicts.
I conducted a survey of reservoir fishery managers designed to assess the extent and severity of user conflicts on reservoirs that support striped bass or hybrid striped bass fisheries. Thirty-two fishery managers, from 18 of the 27 states contacted, responded to the survey (56% response rate). Twenty-two managers reported conflicts between striped bass anglers and other anglers, and 20 managers reported conflicts between anglers and recreational boaters or personal watercraft users on the reservoirs they managed. Nearly all conflicts among anglers had decreased in severity over the past 10 years, largely due to efforts by fishery managers to build more constructive relationships with angling stakeholders and to make the management process more transparent. Managers built more constructive relationships by involving anglers in fisheries management activities and by meeting with them frequently to discuss reservoir management. Despite attempts to involve stakeholders in decision-making processes, transparency of the management process remains an issue. Marine fisheries managers in the Southeastern United States collaborate with stakeholders to identify and review data and stock assessment procedures. The marine fisheries model could be adapted to increase the transparency of reservoir management.