Wisconsin creel dataset as well as predictor variables for lakes from 1990 to 2017 to estimate statewide recreational fisheries harvest
Recreational fisheries have high economic worth, valued at $190B globally. An important, but underappreciated, secondary value of recreational catch is its role as a source of food. This contribution is poorly understood due to difficulty in estimating recreational harvest at spatial scales beyond an individual system, as traditionally estimated from angler creel surveys. Here, we address this gap using a 28-year creel survey of ~300 Wisconsin inland lakes. We develop a statistical model of recreational harvest for individual lakes and then scale-up to unsurveyed lakes (3769 lakes; 73% of statewide lake surface area) to generate a statewide estimate of recreational lake harvest of ~4200 t and an estimated annual angler consumption rate of ~3 kg, nearly double estimated United States per capita freshwater fish consumption. Recreational fishing harvest makes significant contributions to human diets, is critical for discussions on food security, and the multiple ecosystem services of freshwater systems.
The state of Wisconsin is comprised of about 15,000 inland lakes ranging from 0.5 to 53,394 ha (WDNR 2009). Most lakes occur in the northern and eastern part of the state as a result of glaciation. about 3,620 lakes are greater than 20 ha and together comprise about 93% of the state's inland lake surface area (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2009). Wisconsin lakes constitute a wide range of physical and biological characteristics. Wisconsin inland lakes support valuable recreational fisheries for a variety of species, including Walleye (Sander vitreus), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu), Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), and a variety of sunfish species (Lepomis spp.).