Angler travel distances: Implications for spatial approaches to marine recreational fisheries governance
Increasingly recreational fisheries are being managed as socioecological systems using spatially explicit and participatory place based approaches. Such approaches require considering the spatial dynamics of a resource (fish) as well as its users (anglers). While the former is comparatively well studied, very little empirical information exists regarding the spatial ranges of angler travel to fishing locations. To address this and ultimately inform spatial and place based management approaches, the statistical properties of angler travel were assessed in six popular marine recreational fisheries in Florida, USA. Expected angler travel distances differed among species, regions, and years, with most trips in certain fisheries (e.g., common snook) made by anglers residing in close proximity to the fishing site (< 30 km), while anglers targeting other species (e.g., red snapper) usually traveled more than 200 km from their residence to fish. In concert with literature, these results suggest that some fisheries may be better suited than others for more spatially explicit or place based approaches to management. More broadly, these results can be used to better identify and engage stakeholders in management, anticipate effects of spatially explicit management decisions, and assess relative importance of different fisheries for attracting out-of-region or state trips, which may be important for local economies.