Fishing in Urban New Jersey: Ethnicity Affects Information Sources, Perception, and Compliance

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Abstract

Recreational and subsistence angling are important aspects of urban culture for much of North America where people are concentrated near the coasts or major rivers. Yet there are fish and shellfish advisories for many estuaries, rivers, and lakes, and these are not always heeded. This paper examines fishing behavior, sources of information, perceptions, and compliance with fishing advisories as a function of ethnicity for people fishing in the Newark Bay Complex of the New York–New Jersey Harbor. We test the null hypothesis that there were no ethnic differences in sources of information, perceptions of the safety of fish consumption, and compliance with advisories. There were ethnic differences in consumption rates, sources of information about fishing, knowledge about the safety of the fish, awareness of fishing advisories or of the correct advisories, and knowledge about risks for increased cancer and to unborn and young children. In general, the knowledge base was much lower for Hispanics, was intermediate for blacks, and was greatest for whites. When presented with a statement about the potential risks from eating fish, there were no differences in their willingness to stop eating fish or to encourage pregnant women to stop. These results indicate a willingness to comply with advisories regardless of ethnicity, but a vast difference in the base knowledge necessary to make informed risk decisions about the safety of fish and shellfish. Although the overall median income level of the population was in the $25,000–34,999 income category, for Hispanics it was on the border between $15,000–24,999 and $25,000–34,999.

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