Principal Investigator: 
Alan Graefe (gyu@psu.edu)
Institution: 
Penn State University
Seagrant Topics: 
The overarching goal of the study was to assess the economic impact and significance of the recreational angling industry within the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie. For a guiding framework, this study utilized an exploratory mixed methodology with three connected phases which resulted in 1,189 completed online and mail-back questionnaires (Phase I), 516 completed on-site questionnaires of Lake Erie anglers (Phase II), and approximately 15 hours of stakeholder interviews (Phase III). Readers are encouraged to review these findings as reflective of anglers within the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie, and not representative of all Lake Erie anglers.

Phase I key observations and findings:

  • The majority of anglers surveyed in Phase I with either an online or mail-back survey were middle-aged white males from the local area or the state of Pennsylvania who had reported earning moderate levels of education and household income (see Section 2).
  • Most anglers purchased either a Combination Trout-Salmon fishing permit, a Lake Erie fishing permit, an Adult Resident fishing permit, and/or a Lake Erie fishing permit and were likely to fish from either the shoreline or a private boat for either steelhead, walleye, or yellow perch.
  • The primarily experienced, specialized, and skilled sample indicated they frequently fished the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie and intended to fish in the 2017 Lake Erie angler season.
  • Anglers strongly identified with the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie and were moderately dependent and attached to the community and social elements associated with the area to engage in their angling pursuits.
  • Anglers identified and largely attained a variety of reasons and motivations for visiting the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie such as “to be outdoors”, “to get away from the regular routine”, “to do things with your companions” as well as “for the challenge or sport of fishing”.
  • The majority of anglers indicated moderate levels of satisfaction with their overall 2016 Lake Erie angling season and were highly satisfied with the environmental conditions such as the water quality, cleanliness, and condition of the habitat. However, anglers also noted moderate levels of satisfaction with the fishing opportunities, fish harvest, and social conditions within the Pennsylvania section of Lake
  • Erie.
  • On average, respondents noted that two anglers and five trips to the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie in 2016 were covered by their annual expenditures.
  • The highest proportion of angler expenditures among all anglers spending something were within the categories of automobile gasoline and oil, restaurants, bars, etc., and groceries.
  • Anglers rarely reported spending within the categories of camping, parking, boat launching fees, boat mooring fees, tournament entry fees, and/or entertainment.

Phase II key observations and findings:

  • During the Phase II on-site survey, the majority of anglers indicated being middle-aged white males from the local area or the state of Pennsylvania who had reported earning moderate levels of education and household income (see Section 3).
  • Most anglers purchased either an Adult Resident fishing permit, a Lake Erie fishing permit, and/or a Combination Trout-Salmon fishing permit and were likely to fish from either a pier or the shoreline for yellow perch, walleye, or steelhead.
  • The primarily experienced, specialized, and skilled sample indicated they frequently fished the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie, were mostly repeat visitors, and intended to participate in the 2017 Lake Erie angler season.
  • Anglers identified a variety of reasons and motivations for visiting the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie such as “relaxation”, “enjoyment of nature”, “challenge seeking”, and “social and family togetherness”.
  • The majority of anglers indicated moderate levels of satisfaction with their overall angling trip and were highly satisfied with both the social and environmental conditions within the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie such as the number of anglers fishing nearby, the water quality, cleanliness, and condition of the habitat.
  • However, anglers also noted moderate levels of satisfaction with the fishing opportunities and fish harvest within the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie such as the species caught and total number of fish caught.
  • On average, respondents noted that two anglers were covered by their daily trip expenditures to the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie.
  • The highest proportion of angler trip expenditures among all anglers spending something were within the categories of bait, automobile gasoline and oil, and groceries.
  • Anglers rarely reported spending within the categories of camping, parking, boat launching fees, and boat mooring fees.

Economic Impact and Significance key observations and findings:

  • The total economic impact of the Pennsylvania section of the Lake Erie recreational angling industry upon Erie County, Pennsylvania was estimated to be $40.6 million for the 2016 season. Economic impact is the amount of money spent by non-local residents in a host economy (e.g., Erie County) that creates income and jobs for the local host economy.
  • The total economic significance of the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie recreational angling industry upon Erie County, Pennsylvania was estimated to be $49.5 million for the 2016 season. Economic significance is a measure of the importance or significance of the recreational angling industry within the local economy as it shows the size and nature of local and non-local economic activity associated with visits to the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie.
  • The average total amount spent by anglers residing within Erie County Pennsylvania during the 2016 season was $454. The highest expenditure categories among all anglers residing within Erie County Pennsylvania included automobile gasoline and oil, equipment, and groceries.
  • The average total amount spent by anglers residing outside of Erie County Pennsylvania during the 2016 season was $503. The highest expenditure categories among all anglers residing outside of Erie County
  • Pennsylvania included lodging, automobile gasoline and oil, and restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Angler expenditures supported approximately 539 jobs within Erie County Pennsylvania in 2016. This included both wage and salary employees including both full and part-time workers. The top industries within Erie County, Pennsylvania impacted by angler expenditures in 2016 included full-service restaurants, hotels and motels, and retail sporting goods and hobby stores.
  • Angler expenditures provided more than $13 million in income for Erie County Pennsylvania residents in 2016. This included all forms of employee compensation (e.g., wages and benefits) as well as proprietor income.
  • A total of $19.9 million of employee compensation, proprietor income, indirect business taxes, and other property type income was generated in Erie County, Pennsylvania as a result of angler spending in 2016. For every $1 spent on recreational angling within the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie in 2016, $1.65 was generated for the Erie County, Pennsylvania gross regional product.
 
Research Year: 
2016
Funding Amount: 
$166,315
Current or Past research?: 
Past Research

Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011