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DNR, UW faculty, Walleyes for Tomorrow join forces to study value of Green Bay fishery

Published by Central Office March 28, 2017

Contact(s): Mike Donofrio, DNR fisheries team supervisor in Peshtigo, 715-582-5050, Michael.Donofrio@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov; John Stoll, Public and Environmental Affairs Department chairman, UW-Green Bay, 920-465-2358: stollj@uwgb.edu; Matthew Winden, Fiscal and Economic Research Center Associate Director, UW-Whitewater, 262-472-5579, windenm@uww.edu

GREEN BAY -- Starting Saturday, anglers who fish in Green Bay will be asked to participate in a new study designed to calculate the social, recreational and economic impact of the region's fishery.

Given the area's world-class walleye fishing, Great Lakes spotted musky population, whitefish, bass, yellow perch, trout and salmon opportunities, the impact is significant. Green Bay represents a key destination for the 178,000 in-state and out-of-state anglers who participate in Wisconsin's Great Lakes sportfishing each year.

Peshtigo River walleye anglers take advantage of the spring bite.
Peshtigo River walleye anglers take advantage of the spring bite.
Photo Credit: DNR

According to the most recent data from the American Sportfishing Association, in 2011 these anglers contributed more than $114 million in direct retail expenditures and more than $12.5 million in state and local taxes. The research project's collaborators - including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; faculty from University of Wisconsin -Green Bay and University of Wisconsin -Whitewater; and members of Walleyes for Tomorrow - believe the impact is growing in size and scope in northeastern Wisconsin.

"Spring, summer, fall and winter all bring different angling opportunities and provide year-round enjoyment for many people," said Mike Donofrio, DNR fisheries team supervisor in Peshtigo. "We're excited to learn what people value most about the fishing here and how their widespread participation supports jobs in the region."

John Stoll, chair of the Public and Environmental Affairs Department at UW-Green Bay, said the project will use DNR creel clerks and other staff to randomly distribute the surveys over the next 12 months. The results will demonstrate the economic impact angling activities have on regional economies and provide a better understanding of the social benefits that arise from sound resource management in Wisconsin.

In addition to providing data that will help inform future resource management, Stoll said the project highlights the UW System faculty members' commitment to researching topics of statewide economic importance.

The study will continue over the coming year and examine all types of fishing throughout warm and cold weather seasons. The surveys are being returned to UW-Whitewater's Fiscal and Economic Research Center, which provides economic analysis for the state of Wisconsin and coordination for the project.

Questions include the number of times anglers visit Green Bay, the amount of equipment they own and the species they prefer to target. The subject matter is similar to a 2006 survey Stoll conducted on the Lake Winnebago fishery that calculated direct angler expenditures of $155.5 million and benefits such as increased tourism and downtown revitalization.

"We appreciate the support of DNR with this effort and we are particularly grateful to Walleyes for Tomorrow for funding the research," Stoll said. The angling group has committed to providing $15,000 of the $20,000 needed for the project. The remainder is being provided by the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater's Institute for Water Business, which promotes the nexus between water and commerce.

Mike Arrowood, chairman of Walleyes for Tomorrow, said support for the study fits well with the group's long-term commitment to the region's fishery. The survey will cover Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette and Oconto counties.

"Our understanding of the fishery has continued to evolve even as the fishery itself has progressed," Arrowood said. "Thanks to water quality improvements and ongoing habitat work supported by our group and others in places including the Peshtigo and Oconto rivers, walleye restoration efforts continue to bear fruit today with a self-sustaining population in southern Green Bay. We hope the study will help document the importance of these trends to the region's economy and everyone who lives, works and recreates here."

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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