Commercial fisheries catches by country are documented since 1950 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Unfortunately, this does not hold for marine recreational catches, of which only few, if any, estimates are reported to FAO. We reconstructed preliminary estimates of likely marine recreational catches for 1950–2014, based on independent reconstructions for 125 countries. Our estimates of marine recreational catches that are retained and landed increased globally until the early 1980s, stabilized through the 1990s, and began increasing again thereafter, amounting to around 900,000 t⋅year–1 in 2014. Marine recreational catches thus account for slightly less than 1% of total global marine catches. Trends vary regionally, increasing in Asia, South America and Africa, while slightly decreasing in Europe and Oceania, and strongly decreasing in North America. The derived taxonomic composition indicates that recent catches were dominated by Sparidae (12% of total catches), followed by Scombridae (10%), Carangidae (6%), Gadidae (5%), and Sciaenidae (4%). The importance of Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) in recreational fisheries in some regions is of concern, given the life-history traits of these taxa. Our preliminary catch reconstruction, despite high data uncertainty, should encourage efforts to improve national data reporting of recreational catches.
The European Parliament is concerned about the lack of information on the relevance of nine million Europeans engaged in marine recreational fishing (MRF), committing Member States to encourage environmental and socioeconomic sustainability of the sector. The objective of this paper is to provide recommendations to guide research actions and management policies, based on the case of Spain, a key country because its complex administrative regimen and the intensive use of its coasts, including 900,000 recreational fishers. A review of the state of the knowledge was performed to identify research gaps, while governance challenges were identified in an International Symposium on MRF. In the last two decades research on MRF was remarkable (139 publications). However, public investment in research (€2.44 million in the same period) should be improved to cover knowledge gaps on socioeconomic relevance, on impacts on vulnerable species and on implications of global warming. The license system should be standardized to allow estimation of effort, catch and expenditure. Social networks, mobile applications, fisher ecological knowledge, and citizen science programs could help to develop cost-effective research and management. Science-based, adaptive policies should improve the allocation of resources between MRF and other stakeholders, introducing co-management to reduce conflicts.
Understanding how recreational angling effort responds to regulatory adjustment is important for rebuilding overfished stocks such as Atlantic striped bass Morone saxatilis. In this paper, we use stated preference choice experiment data to evaluate how individual angler participation may respond to changes in fishing trip characteristics, particularly the number of small, medium-sized, and trophy striped bass kept and released. We use these results to simulate the aggregate effect of alternative fishing policies in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut on angler welfare, angler effort, recreational fishing mortality, and female spawning stock biomass (SSB). We find that a wide range of economically efficient policies are available if the primary management objective is to control recreational fishing mortality. In contrast, we find that the range of efficient policies is quite narrow if the primary management objective is to protect female SSB. Additionally, only one of the 36 alternative policies analyzed; a one-fish harvest slot of 28″ to 36″, is expected to achieve a non-trivial reduction in both total and female spawning stock removals relative to the actual 2015 policy of one fish, 28″ or longer. Implementing a one-fish harvest slot of 28″ to 36″ comes with minimal costs in terms of foregone angler welfare due to the relatively low rate at which trophy striped bass in excess of 36″ are encountered.
In partially protected marine areas, such as recreational fishing havens (RFHs), fishery‐independent surveys and recreational angler surveys represent two of the few available methods of collecting length‐frequency data to monitor population responses to protection from commercial fishing and the impacts of ongoing recreational fishing. Although length data plays an important role in facilitating stock assessment and monitoring within RFHs, little is known about the relative magnitude and direction of size‐selective biases introduced by fishery‐independent surveys and angler surveys. This study quantitatively compared length data derived from the two methods for three exploited species or taxa (bream species complex of Acanthopagrus spp. [hybrid complex of Black Bream A. butcheri × Yellowfin Bream A. australis], Dusky Flathead Platycephalus fuscus, and Sand Whiting Sillago ciliata) sampled from two estuarine RFHs in Australia. When all lengths sampled by each method were compared, the species‐specific length frequencies derived from angler surveys and fishery‐independent surveys differed significantly in all cases but for Dusky Flathead from one RFH. Following standardization for minimum‐legal‐length restrictions, the angler survey method captured a more representative spectrum of lengths for Acanthopagrus spp. For Dusky Flathead, angler surveys and fishery‐independent surveys performed equally in terms of the lengths captured. Although length frequencies for Sand Whiting above minimum legal length differed significantly between the methods in both RFHs, spatial inconsistencies precluded a clear conclusion for this species. The fact that neither method consistently outperformed the other across all species supports the idea that using both angler surveys and fishery‐independent surveys in a complimentary manner may enable a clearer understanding of size compositions across multiple species for monitoring and stock assessment purposes and thereby facilitate an ecosystem‐based approach to fishery assessment and management.
Coastal and estuarine ecosystems, such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows, provide a range of ecosystem services, but have seen extensive degradation and decline. Effective protection and rehabilitation of coastal ecosystems requires an understanding of how efforts may improve associated ecosystem services. In this study, we present a spatially-explicit angler catch function to predict boat-based recreational catch as a function of ecosystem and angler characteristics. We developed a choice model to investigate where recreational anglers launch their boats and fish in southeast Australia. By linking the recreational catch models with a choice model, we were able to quantify welfare gains of ecosystem rehabilitation. We found welfare gains across fishing locations varied widely due to heterogeneous coverage of seagrass. The welfare gains of different fishing locations ranged from near-zero in areas of low seagrass coverage, to AU $19.18 (10% increase in seagrass area) and to AU $85.55 (30% increase) per trip in location of high seagrass coverage. Given two million fishing trips occurring per year in Port Phillip Bay, and one million in Western Port, the aggregated welfare gain could scale up to AU $6.2 million with a 10% increase in seagrass coverage, and AU $22 million per annum with a 30% increase in seagrass. We also calculated the welfare loss associated with total loss of seagrass ecosystem in each fishing location to represent the current value, which varied significantly, ranging from near-zero in some locations to AU $87.47 per trip in other location. Over the past several decades, the bay-wide seagrass ecosystem has dropped by 36.7% in Western Port, resulting in potential welfare loss of an estimated AU $ 86.7 million per annum. Our analyses provide insightful spatial policy implications for coastal and marine ecosystem rehabilitation in the region.
The sustainable management of flats fishing requires establishing limits on the number of boats as its demand continues to grow. This study integrated different techniques to determine the carrying capacity in a recreational fishery: optimum boating density, visual fish census, geographic information system, fishing guides interviews and decision theory. The optimum boating density was based on the effective fishing area (EFA) and on the optimum density. The EFA represented 36% of the bay and was calculated from 53 fishing trips tracked with GPS data loggers. The data were analyzed in a geographic information system that incorporated the effect of the winds on the fish behavior. The maximum number of boats was calculated under four scenarios: northern winds, eastern winds, south-eastern winds and calm winds. The optimum density (average = 1.2 Km2, SD = 0.5) was obtained from anglers' statements. The decision theory results showed that the maximum number of boats under wind variability could be up to 89 boats in the fishery.
Compliance is a key factor in ensuring success of marine conservation. We describe a community–academic partnership that seeks to reduce non-compliance of recreational fishers with Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) around Galiano Island in British Columbia, Canada. Previous work showed mostly unintentional non-compliance by recreational fishers. From 2015 to 2018 we developed and implemented outreach and public education activities. We distributed information at community events, and installed 46 metal signs with maps of nearby RCAs at marinas, ferry terminals, and boat launches. During the summers of 2015, 2017, and 2018, we interviewed 86 recreational fishers to gauge their compliance with RCAs. Compared with a baseline in 2014, there was a reduction of 22% (from 25 to 3%) of people who unintentionally fished in RCAs with prohibited gears. In 2018, 67% of participants had seen our outreach materials. We used trail cameras overlooking RCAs to assess non-compliance in six locations on Galiano Island. Illegal fishing incidents within RCAs declined from 42% of days monitored in 2014 to 14% in 2018. Although our outreach efforts were limited in scale and scope, they appear to be making a difference. Our activities and findings can provide guidance for other regions seeking to improve compliance by recreational fishers.
Few studies assess the effects of recreational fishing in isolation from commercial fishing. We used meta-analysis to synthesise 4444 samples from 30 years (1987–2017) of fish surveys inside and outside a large network of highly protected reserves in the Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia, where the major fishing activity is recreational. Data were collected by different agencies, using varied survey designs and sampling methods. We contrasted the relative abundance and biomass of target and non-target fish groups between fished and reserve locations. We considered the influence of, and possible interactions between, seven additional variables: age and size of reserve, one of two reserve network configurations, reef habitat type, recreational fishing activity, shore-based fishing regulations and survey method. Taxa responded differently: the abundance and biomass inside reserves relative to outside was higher for targeted lethrinids, while other targeted (and non-targeted) fish groups were indistinguishable. Reef habitat was important for explaining lethrinid response to protection, and this factor interacted with reserve size, such that larger reserves were demonstrably more effective in the back reef and lagoon habitats. There was little evidence of changes in relative abundance and biomass of fishes with reserve age, or after rezoning and expansion of the reserve network. Our study demonstrates the complexities in quantifying fishing effects, highlighting some of the key factors and interactions that likely underlie the varied results in reserve assessments that should be considered in future reserve design and assessment.
The Maltese Islands have a very active recreational fishing community which may affect the coastal marine ecosystem. Despite this, studies to scientifically document the effects of this activity have been lacking prior to works between July 2012 and June 2017 presented here as a case study. This project, with the aim of collecting long-term data on the characteristics, trends, catches and impacts to fish populations of the recreational shore sport fishery at the national level also involved a pilot study on hobby shore angling. Two thousand five hundred and eighty nine roving-access creel surveys conducted during 132 sport fishing events and 159 catches from hobby fishers were documented with the methodology used also applicable to shore fishing taking place in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Ninety species belonging to twenty-nine families were documented with the most common being the Sparidae and Labridae. Catch per unit effort was higher for sport fishers with hobby fishers targeting larger fish. Results from this case study go to augment the limited and necessary knowledge on this fishing sector in the Mediterranean. Findings also indicate that recreational fisheries need to be taken into account when considering conservation measures for national, regional and global fisheries management.
Marine recreational fishing is popular globally and benefits coastal economies and people's well‐being. For some species, it represents a large component of fish landings. Climate change is anticipated to affect recreational fishing in many ways, creating opportunities and challenges. Rising temperatures or changes in storms and waves are expected to impact the availability of fish to recreational fishers, through changes in recruitment, growth and survival. Shifts in distribution are also expected, affecting the location that target species can be caught. Climate change also threatens the safety of fishing. Opportunities may be reduced owing to rougher conditions, and costs may be incurred if gear is lost or damaged in bad weather. However, not all effects are expected to be negative. Where weather conditions change favourably, participation rates could increase, and desirable species may become available in new areas. Drawing on examples from the UK and Australia, we synthesize existing knowledge to develop a conceptual model of climate‐driven factors that could impact marine recreational fisheries, in terms of operations, participation and motivation. We uncover the complex pathways of drivers that underpin the recreational sector. Climate changes may have global implications on the behaviour of recreational fishers and on catches and local economies.