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.
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.
Since the 1970s, recreational fishing has become a mass hobby in Italy, reaching a large number of people, who, using modern equipment, increased their harvesting capacity, provoking serious conflicts with the professional fisheries. Recreational fishing is strictly regulated inside Italian Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and is generally allocated to local residents, mainly to reduce the tensions caused by limitations of access to the resources. The aim of this study was to provide an analysis of recreational fishing activities within the Portofino MPA (Mediterranean Sea), to assess the possible impact on the local fish stocks and to plan potential management actions. Furthermore, some serious inconsistencies on the minimum lengths of fish caught as defined by law relative to the minimum size of first reproduction are discussed. Since 2014, all anglers exploiting the Portofino MPA have been obliged to fill out a logbook. The compilation of these was not completely satisfactory, when compared with a group of reliable anglers whose catches were accurately monitored, but allowed for estimated yields of about 24 kg/angler/yr. After 15 years of protection, the fish biomass has increased within the Portofino MPA, generating a positive spillover effect. At the same time, it has attracted many anglers whose gross harvesting was estimated at about 8 t/year, representing about the 8% of the total yield of the local small-scale fishery.
Recreational fisheries can play a significant role in the population dynamics of threatened fish species, but have received much less research and management attention than commercial fisheries. Land-based anglers are a group of recreational fishers that fish from beaches or piers; however, comparatively little is known about the practices and perceptions of this stakeholder group. In order to gather data for an initial assessment of the fishing practices of land-based anglers and their perspectives on shark conservation issues, we performed a content and discourse analysis of an online discussion forum used by the largest land-based shark fishing club in Florida. Discussion board content analysis can identify evidence that certain perceptions or practices exist within a studied sample, but cannot be used to estimate how common those perceptions and practices are among the wider population. We found evidence that forum users are demographically distinct from other recreational anglers in Florida, and are mostly young males. Some forum users perceive themselves as relatively low-income compared with other fishing stakeholder groups. There was no evidence in forum discussions that patterns of reported landing and release of hammerhead and tiger sharks changed following the introduction of new legal protections for these species in 2012. This study identified a minimum of dozens of cases of illegal shark fishing practices among forum users, and found evidence that some users are aware that these practices are illegal. There was evidence that some users believe that their own practices have no effect on shark populations and should not be regulated. Additionally, this study found the existence of mixed attitudes and levels of trust towards scientific researchers and environmentalists.
Despite threats to human wellbeing from ecological degradation, public engagement with this issue remains at low levels. However, studies have shown that crafting messages to resonate with people’s personal experiences can enhance engagement. Recreational fishing is one of the principal ways in which people interact with aquatic environments, but long-term data from this perspective are considered rare. We uncovered 852 popular media records of recreational fishing for an Australian estuary across a 140-year period. Using information contained in these articles we analysed the species composition of recreational catches over time and constructed two distinct time series of catch and effort (n fish fisher-1 trip-1; kg fish fisher-1 trip-1) for recreational fishing trips and fishing club competitions (mean n and kg fish caught across all competitors, and n and kg fish caught by the competition winner). Reported species composition remained similar over time. Catch rates reported from recreational fishing trips (1900–1998) displayed a significant decline, averaging 32.5 fish fisher-1 trip-1 prior to 1960, and 18.8 fish fisher-1 trip-1 post-1960. Mean n fish fisher-1 competition-1 (1913–1983) also significantly declined, but best n fish fisher-1 competition-1 (1925–1980) displayed no significant change, averaging 31.2 fish fisher-1 competition-1 over the time series. Mean and best kg fish fisher-1 competition-1 trends also displayed no significant change, averaging 4.2 and 9.9 kg fisher-1 competition-1, respectively. These variable trends suggest that while some fishers experienced diminishing returns in this region over the last few decades, the most skilled inshore fishers were able to maintain their catch rates, highlighting the difficulties inherent in crafting conservation messages that will resonate with all sections of a community. Despite these challenges, this research demonstrates that popular media sources can provide multiple long-term trends at spatial scales, in units and via a recreational experience that many people can relate to.
Few data exist to evaluate the performance or assess the potential impacts of hook regulations on catchability or selectivity of recreational fisheries in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The purpose of this study was to test the effects of hook type (circle vs. J hook) and hook size (1/0, 4/0, and 7/0) on catch composition, traumatic hooking, species-specific catches, and size-selectivity of red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, and grey triggerfish, Balistes capriscus.Selectivity was estimated by conditioning size distributions from hook-specific catches against in situ size distributions observed with a remotely operated vehicle. Deep hooking (hook set in gills or beyond) was low in all hook treatments for red snapper (<10%) and grey triggerfish (<6%), but was generally higher with J hooks, especially for other fishes caught with the largest J hook (34%). Hook type did not significantly affect catches, but catches decreased significantly with increasing hook size in all groups except red snapper. Selectivity curves were dome-shaped for both focus species in all hook treatments and selection peaks were similar among treatments for red snapper. Peak selectivity was 78.1 mm larger for J hooks than circle hooks for grey triggerfish. Overall, study results indicate that the circle hook regulation may have reduced traumatic hooking mortality by up to 50%, and that catchability is similar between hook types for both red snapper and grey triggerfish when controlling for hook size. Strong dome-shaped selection estimated for nearly all selectivity curves suggest logistic size-selectivity assumptions in assessment models are likely inappropriate for recreational sectors targeting red snapper or grey triggerfish.
We used an integrated bio-economic model to explore the nature of tradeoffs between conservation of fisheries resources and their use for socioeconomic benefit, as realized through the stock enhancement of recreational fisheries. The model explicitly accounted for the dynamics of wild, stocked, and naturally recruited hatchery-type fish population components, angler responses to stocking, and alternative functional relationships that defined conservation and socioeconomic objectives. The model was set up to represent Florida’s red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) fishery as a case study. Stock enhancement produced strong trade-offs characterized by frontiers indicating that maximizing socioeconomic objectives could only be achieved at great losses to conservation objectives when the latter were based exclusively on abundance of wild-type fish. When naturally recruited hatchery-type fish were considered equivalent to wild fish in conservation value, this tradeoff was alleviated. Frontier shapes were sensitive to alternative assumptions regarding how conservation objectives were formulated, differential harvesting of stocked and wild-type fish, and potential inherent stakeholder satisfaction from the act of stocking. These findings make more explicit the likely opportunity costs associated with recreational stock enhancement and highlight the utility of trade-off frontiers for evaluating management actions.
Understanding the impacts of recreational fishing on habitats and species, as well as the social and ecological importance of place to anglers, requires information on the spatial distribution of fishing activities. This study documented long-term changes in core fishing areas of a major recreational fishery in Alaska and identified biological, regulatory, social, and economic drivers of spatial fishing patterns by charter operators. Using participatory mapping and in-person interviews, we characterized the spatial footprint of 46 charter operators in the communities of Sitka and Homer since the 1990s. The spatial footprint differed between Homer and Sitka respondents, with Homer operators consistently using larger areas for Pacific halibut than Sitka operators. Homer and Sitka showed opposite trends in core fishing location area over time, with an overall decrease in Homer and an overall increase in Sitka. For both Sitka and Homer respondents, the range of areas fished was greater for Pacific halibut than for rockfish/lingcod or Pacific salmon. Spatial patterns were qualitatively different between businesses specializing in single species trips and those that operated multispecies trips and between businesses with one vessel and those with multiple vessels. In Homer, the most frequently cited reasons for changes in the location and/or extent of fishing were changes in trip type and the price of fuel, while in Sitka, the most frequently cited reasons for spatial shifts were changes to Pacific halibut regulations and gaining experience or exploring new locations. The diversity of charter fishing strategies in Alaska may allow individual charter operators to respond differently to perturbations and thus maintain resilience of the industry as a whole to social, environmental, and regulatory change. This research also highlights the importance of understanding fishers’ diverse portfolio of activities to effective ecosystem-based management.
The growth of marine recreational activities raises the issues of the current lack of knowledge on these activities and the information required to assess their potential impacts. Indeed, the monitoring of unrecorded activities is a great challenge, especially when basic information, such as the size of the population practicing the different activities, is unknown. In this paper, the experience of the monitoring of marine recreational fishing was used to carry out a diagnosis study to assess the cost-effectiveness of survey methods used in France between 2004 and 2012. Costs of alternative surveys were balanced with data quality, and particular attention was paid to potential biases. Results showed that the involvement of citizens through diary surveys could be a cost-effective option when the recruitment of participants complied with randomness and representativeness requirements. The outcomes of this study provide useful insights to help managers and decision makers implement monitoring schemes in similar contexts.
Relationships between angling effort and fish abundance have critical implications for the resilience and management of recreational fisheries, but these relationships have rarely been assessed empirically. Here, angling effort was related to fish abundance in three marine recreational fisheries in Florida, USA, through a suite of regression and time series methods that accounted for socio-economic and demographic variables. Overall, recreational angling effort was correlated with fish abundance, but further analyses provided little evidence of strong, causal relationships. Lack of strong relationships implies angling effort might increase in the future unrelated to fish abundance, a decoupling that could threaten the viability of fish populations in the absence of unpopular recreational effort limitation. The inability to establish more conclusive relationships between effort and fish abundance should motivate a future focus towards natural or manipulative experiments that may provide more powerful inferences.