Indicators to Evaluate the Social Dimensions of the Recreational Fishery in the Great Lakes
Natural resource management agencies increasingly engage in monitoring and evaluation activities to become more explicit and transparent about their activities and to demonstrate management achievements. As fishery management focuses on fish resources and the people using these resources, evaluating management performance requires assessing both environmental and human-centered outcomes of a fishery. Our paper addresses the current lack of indicators to evaluate the social dimensions of the recreational fishery in the Great Lakes. We identified management outcomes and evaluation indicators for the social dimensions of the fishery through semistructured interviews with fishery managers. Our study finds that fishery managers identified desired management outcomes and indicators at three distinct levels: individual anglers, local communities, and Great Lakes states and provinces. Managers’ input on outcomes and indicators was key to clarifying generic management goals such as “happy anglers.” Desired outcomes also revealed that managers’ understanding of management effectiveness goes beyond current management goals. Regular adaptation of management goals for the fishery might be critical to make sure that goals reflect what managers would like to achieve. We also suggest extending evaluation efforts beyond the assessment of management goals. Including ecological, social, and economic trends in the basin that influence the performance of the fishery could help managers understand and predict the effect of contextual changes in the basin on the fishery over time.