The commercial bait trade is one pathway for aquatic invasive species (AIS) introductions, as non-target bait species can be accidentally sold to anglers who either inadvertently or intentionally release them while fishing or as excess bait. Prevention of AIS introductions via the bait trade requires a two-tiered management approach, which includes both regulation of the bait industry and angler education. Retail bait shops may offer opportunities for public education regarding AIS, however it is unknown how often shops are targeted for such purposes and how viable this method of angler education is on a temporal scale. The goals of this research were to 1) quantify the current distribution of AIS signage in retail bait shops in the Great Lakes region and 2) estimate the long term viability of using retail bait shops as platform for angler education. Additionally, we present an up-to-date summary of bait industry regulations across the Great Lakes jurisdictions. Of the 525 bait shops visited in 2012 and 2013, 22% displayed some form of AIS educational materials or signage. Additional signs were distributed during initial visits and, during revisits after one calendar year, 54% of shops still displayed the provided signage. The presented summary of bait regulations for Great Lakes jurisdictions indicates multiple discrepancies across the region, which may hinder successful management strategies. Future management goals should consider additional methods of angler education and coordinating regulations across the Great Lakes to improve upon AIS prevention.
- Aquatic Nuisance Species