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.
Despite the perilous status of many shark populations, rallying support for their conservation has been challenging, due in part to both long held negative perceptions and desire for shark fisheries. Recreational anglers are often advocates of conservation and can act as valuable partners with resource managers in developing fisheries management and conservation strategies. However, understanding their attitudes and perceptions, particularly towards resource status and management, is essential to developing successful management strategies and predicting outcomes. As a case study for assessing the complex challenges of sustainable shark fisheries, Florida recreational anglers were surveyed to understand how attitudes and perceptions influenced their willingness to donate for shark 1) conservation and protection or 2) fisheries sustainability. Overall, recreational angler willingness to donate was 25.5%, but attitudes and perceptions helped explain dramatic divides. For instance, willingness to donate was only 6% among the subset of anglers that perceived a growing large coastal shark population as a threat to recreational fishing opportunities. Highest support for shark conservation was shown by anglers who value seeing sharks in the wild (41.4%), and even more so among individuals who occasionally target sharks while fishing recreationally (65.8%). Pervasive among anglers unwilling to donate was a perception that shark populations were increasing, and thus not in need of further protection. These findings illustrate attitudes and perceptions that challenge shark conservation and fisheries management, as well as the critical importance of engaging anglers when developing strategies that rely on the recreational angling community for support.
There is international recognition for greater inclusion of recreational fisheries catch data in species, fisheries and ecosystem assessments. Recreational charter fisheries provide important social services and contribute to total species catches. This study compares and validates industry logbook catch and effort data (1,357 trips) against observer data (154 trips) across six ports in a recreational charter fishery in eastern Australia. The mean numbers of clients and fishing effort (hours) per trip varied inconsistently between data sources and among ports. Logbooks did not adequately report released catches, and the mean number of species retained per trip was consistently underestimated in logbooks compared to observer data. For both data sources, catch rates of total individuals and key species displayed similar trends across different units of effort; catch per hour, client, client/hour and trip. The mean catch rates of total individuals and most key species, except those retained for bait, were similar across data sources, as were estimates of total fleet harvests. The length compositions of retained catches of some key species displayed truncation of larger organisms in the observer data whereas other species did not. Despite the shortcomings of the logbook data, future fishery and species monitoring strategies could include industry and observer data sources.
This study aimed to assess the suitability of the Berkowitz' (2005) social norms approach (SNA) for improving compliance behaviour amongst recreational fishers. A total of 138 recreational shore anglers were interviewed in Eastern Cape, South Africa and asked about their compliance, attitudes towards compliance, perceptions of compliance and the attitudes of other anglers. Results indicate that angler compliance for individual regulations was relatively high (75%–90%). Attitudes of anglers towards compliance was positive, with >80% feeling that “breaking any regulation is wrong.” Yet, as predicted by the SNA, interviewees often overestimated the non-compliance and negative attitudes of other anglers, particularly as their social proximity decreased. Interviewees with the greatest misperceptions were also less compliant. The social norms present in the Eastern Cape rock and surf fishery fulfil the criteria required for the application of the SNA, suggesting that this approach may provide a suitable normative intervention for improving compliance to be used in conjunction with instrumental approaches in recreational fisheries.