Research and management priorities for Atlantic marine recreational fisheries in Southern Europe
Marine Recreational Fishing (MRF) is an important activity in Europe, with 9 million fishers and generating annually € 6 billion in direct expenditures. However, there is a lack of data and understanding of MRF in Europe, particularly in Southern countries, which prevents a number of fish stocks from being effectively assessed and managed. In November 2016, a participatory workshop on MRF was held in Vigo (Spain) to identify challenges and opportunities for data collection, and to diagnose key research gaps and management issues for MRF in the Southern European Atlantic. Experts from a wide range of disciplines (researchers, policy makers, fisheries managers and commercial and recreational fishers) highlighted that the management of MRF is a challenge due to complex and dispersed legal frameworks, with multiple administrations involved, and overlapping uses of space with commercial fishing, aquaculture, navigation and tourism, among others. The lack of strong and representative fishing associations hampers research and management initiatives. Effective communication between recreational fishers, researchers and fisheries managers is also lacking. Despite the ecological, social and economic relevance of MRF, there is no systematic and comprehensive collection of information on fishing effort, recreational catches, expenses, social profile and access conditions of European recreational fishers. These data would be useful to avoid biases in the assessment of recreational fisheries due to the great diversity of ecosystems, species and typologies of users. Strategic recommendations and research priorities were also identified to address knowledge gaps and are discussed in the context of the management of MRF across Europe.