Specialised recreational fishers reject sanctuary zones and favour fisheries management
Policy-makers are faced with the ongoing challenge of designing management interventions which conserve marine ecosystems while maintaining a sustainable level of resource user access. Recreational fishers are a key user group to consider as their activities can have significant impacts on fish populations. In some contexts, recreational fishers also represent a significant proportion of the public and can hold considerable influence on governing authorities. This issue is particularly pertinent for marine protected areas as significant opposition exists within some local communities, including recreational fishers, and community support is critical to achieving success. An online survey was employed across Western Australia to investigate recreational fishers' motivations and their attitudes towards fisheries management and different types of spatial closures, including marine protected areas. The results show the most specialised fishers demonstrate stronger support for traditional fisheries management compared to other groups, but stronger opposition to closed fishing zones specified as sanctuary zones. In comparison, no strong opposition is present for temporarily closed fishing zones or those protecting unique or fragile places. Our results suggest that rather than spatial fishing closures, it is the designated purpose of sanctuary zones for precautionary management which some specialised fishers reject. Understanding patterns of support are vital for policy-makers to design and communicate policy which is seen as appropriate and legitimate amongst stakeholders, particularly to those specialised fishers who hold significant influence in fishing communities.
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