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Characteristics of Billfish Anglers

Social and Economic Study of Billfish Tournament Anglers in Cabo San Lucas

Robert B. Ditton and Kirk S. Gillis
Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2258

Prepared for the Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Jackpot Tournament , Gold Cup Productions Tournament, and the Pete Lopiccola Memorial Marlin Tournament with partial funding support provided by The Billfish Foundation and Texas A&M University.

In order to better understand and be responsive to the needs of current and future tournament anglers, it is necessary for tournament planners and directors to conduct market research. Previous efforts have ranged from collecting basic angler data as a part of tournament entry forms to more detailed post event surveys mailed to randomly selected samples of tournament participants. These later efforts have typically focused on understanding the social and economic characteristics of anglers, their annual fishing activity and methods, and tournament expenditures and their distribution patterns (at home, en-route, or during the tournament event).

In addition to providing local communities with a better understanding of the economic impacts of their tournament events, data collected have been previously useful for developing and implementing event strategies (where number of anglers participating, angler origin, number of non-participants brought by anglers, and length of stay are varied) in an effort to enhance the extent of local economic impact (Ditton and Loomis 1988; Ditton and Loomis, 1985). Furthermore, comparisons of market characteristics for tournament anglers and the overall population of licensed saltwater anglers have revealed important group differences. In particular, tournament anglers have been much more active in terms of their annual fishing participation, the extent of their involvement in recreational fishing, and their commitment to the sport (Falk, et. al., 1989).

The main objective of this report is to provide a profile of fishing patterns, overall participation characteristics, and demographic descriptors for anglers who participated in three billfish tournaments held in Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, Mexico in the fall of 1994. This will enable tournament planners and directors to make comparisons with the population of charter boat anglers who fished for billfish in the study area (Ditton, et. al., 1996) and with saltwater tournament anglers elsewhere (Falk, et. al., 1989).

Methods

A mail questionnaire was used to collect information from a sample of anglers who participated in three tournaments held in Cabo San Lucas in the Fall, 1994: Bisbee's Black and Blue Marlin Jackpot Tournament, Gold Cup Productions Tournament and the Pete Lopiccola Memorial Marlin Tournament. Information sought included personal characteristics and fishing patterns.

The mail survey was sent to the 624 individuals who participated in one or more of the three aforementioned billfish tournaments. Survey mailings began on March 10, 1995 and followed a slightly modified Dillman (1978) methodology. Sampling continued through May, 1995 and a total of 270 questionnaires were completed and returned. After non-deliverables were removed, an overall effective response rate of 44.9% was achieved. There was no check done to ensure that there were no significant differences between respondents and non-respondents. However, a check of non-respondents was conducted in the overall Southern Baja Recreational Billfish Study, which sampled both general and tournament anglers, and no significant differences were found (Ditton, et. al., 1996).

Results

Characteristics of Billfish Anglers

  • Most (94.1%) anglers were male and 65.8% were between 36 and 54 years of age with an average age of 46.2 years. They were predominantly white (98.4%) and non-Hispanic (88.6%).
  • The median annual household income for anglers was $130,000 - $150,000, and the median education level was three years of college.
  • Anglers reported an average of 23.6 years of saltwater fishing experience.
  • Anglers reported an average of 12.6 years of billfish fishing.
  • Most (54.3%) anglers reported fishing as their most important outdoor activity.
  • Most anglers (94.1%) were interested in catching blue marlin during their last tournament, followed by black marlin (74.5%), striped marlin (9.4%), swordfish (7.8%), and sailfish (6.7%).
  • In the previous twelve months, anglers spent most (27 days) of their fishing time in salt water with a boat. The mean number of total days spent fishing was 37 days. Respondents indicated this was slightly less than in previous years.
  • Most (55.2%) anglers reported putting most effort into targeting one particular species of fish. Of these anglers, most (50.7%) reported marlin, 12% specified blue marlin and 0.7% specified sailfish.
  • When asked to compare their fishing abilities to that of the general angling population; a plurality (47.3%) reported they were equally skilled, 38.1% reported they more skilled and 14.6% reported they were less skilled.
  • Anglers reported participating in an average of two fishing tournaments in the previous twelve months, with most (53.6%) participating in one fishing tournament.
  • Anglers reported an average of 4.1 days of billfish fishing in places other than in Mexico or their home state in the previous twelve months.
  • Most (66.3%) anglers reported subscribing to fishing or boating magazines. The three most frequently reported publications were: Marlin Magazine (55%), Grey's Sporting Journal (15%) and Powerboat (14%).
  • When asked about membership organizations, 31.2% reported belonging to The Billfish Foundation (TBF), 29.6% to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), 6% to the National Coalition for Marine Conservation (NCMC), 1.2% to Game Conservation International (Game Coin) and 17.4% reported membership in various other organizations.

Cabo San Lucas Billfish Tournament Trip Characteristics

  • Anglers spent an average of 3.5 days fishing during their last billfish tournament trip.
  • Anglers spent an average of 8.6 total days in Mexico on this trip.
  • On their last trip to Mexico for a billfish fishing tournament, anglers spent an average of $104 on automobile transportation, $419 on other transportation to Mexico, $56 on other transportation in Mexico, $478 on charter and guide fees, $2,541 on tournament fees, $486 on lodging, $479 on food, drink and ice, $142 on tips and $302 on other costs. The average total expenditure on their last trip to Mexico for a billfish fishing tournament was $4,949.
  • Most (64.2%) anglers have participated in more than one billfish tournament in Mexico, and 35.4% reported their last trip was their first trip to participate in a billfish tournament in Mexico.
  • Anglers reported participating in an average of 1.33 billfish tournaments in Baja Sur, Mexico during the past twelve months.
  • Anglers reported they were most interested in catching blue marlin (94.1%), black marlin (74.5%), striped marlin (9.4%), swordfish (7.8%) and sailfish (6.7%).

Billfish Angler Opinions on Management Options

  • When asked how their fishing travel plans would change if their chances for a successful trip were decreased by 25% due to continued commercial longlining in Mexico; almost one-half (45.8%) of anglers reported they would travel to another destination to fish for billfish, 30.3% reported they would continue to travel to Mexico and fish for billfish, 15.5% reported they would travel to Mexico and fish for another species, 4.4% reported they would travel to another destination and not fish for billfish, and 4.0% reported they would travel to Mexico and not fish.
  • When anglers who indicated they would travel to an another destination and fish for billfish (45.8%) were asked where they would go as a substitute, they responded: the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica (36.5%), Hawaii (27.1%), Venezuela (16.1%), Panama (15.7%), Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica (12.2%), US Virgin Islands (11.4%), Florida (10.2%), California (8.6%), Guatemala (6.7%), Puerto Rico (5.5%) and various other destinations represented (11.4%).
  • When asked where they were most likely to go as a substitute for Baja Sur, Mexico, about one-third (34.2%) indicated the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and 24.0% chose Hawaii.

References

Dillman, D.A. 1978. Mail and Telephone Surveys: The Total Design Method. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Ditton, R.B. and D.K. Loomis. 1985. 1983 Texas International Fishing Tournament: An Analysis of Participants' Characteristics, Attitudes, and Expenditures. TAMU-SG-85-202, Texas A&M Univ. Sea Grant College Program.

Ditton, R.B. and D.K. Loomis. 1988. 1985 Hall of Fame Fishing Tournament: An Analysis of Participants' Characteristics, Attitudes, and Expenditures. TAMU-SG-88-201. Texas A&M University Sea Grant College Program.

Ditton, R.B., S.R. Grimes and L.D. Finkelstein. 1996. A Social and Economic Study of the Recreational Billfish Fishery in the Southern Baja Area of Mexico. Report prepared for the International Billfish Research and Conservation Foundation, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Falk, J.M., A.R. Graefe, and R.B. Ditton. 1989. Patterns of Participation and Motivation Among Saltwater Tournament Anglers. Fisheries (Bethesda) 14(4:10-17).

We acknowledge the data collection and analysis assistance of Shepherd Grimes, a research assistant in the Department.

For an executive summary of results of a survey of charter boat billfish anglers in the southern Baja region for comparison purposes, please check out this webpage. For more information on the Human Dimensions Research Lab at Texas A&M University, Please contact Dr. Robert B. Ditton, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2258 or see the Lab webpage.