Examining the reasons why individuals choose to participate or comply with certain fishing regulations is a key part of successful fisheries management. This paper presents a case study that evaluates fisher perceptions of multiple recreational fishery regulations, including traditionally used methods of bag and size limits and a novel regulation involving quota leasing, in the for-hire (i.e., charter) recreational fishing sector for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) in Alaska. This study examined responses from open-ended and Likert-scale questions from semi-structured interviews with 45 charter operators in Homer and Sitka. Our results highlight that controls on individual harvest can be perceived to have unintended consequences for charter businesses, such as effects on profitability and distance traveled. In response to open-ended questions on a voluntary quota leasing program, participants discussed themes of inequity reflecting broader perceptions of conflicts with the commercial sector and the management system. Perceived inequities that have not been fully addressed can shape how stakeholders feel about current management institutions and affect compliance. Therefore, it is important to understand the historical and political contexts of fishery systems to better anticipate support for future management approaches.
Shark depredation, where a shark consumes a hooked fish before it can be retrieved to the fishing vessel, can occur in recreational fisheries. This may cause higher mortality rates in target fish species, injuries to sharks from fishing gear and negatively impact the recreational fishing experience. This study quantified spatial variation and frequency of shark depredation in a recreational fishery in the Ningaloo Marine Park and Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, by surveying 248 fishing boats at west coast boat ramps and 155 boats at Exmouth Gulf boat ramps from July 2015 to May 2016. Shark depredation occurred on 38.7% of fishing trips from west coast boat ramps and 41.9% of trips from Exmouth Gulf boat ramps. The mean (±95% CI) shark depredation rate per trip was 13.7 ± 3.3% for demersal fishing (n = 185) and 11.8 ± 6.8% for trolling (n = 63) for west coast boat ramps, compared to 11.5 ± 2.8% (n = 128) and 7.2 ± 8.4% (n = 27) for Exmouth Gulf ramps. Depredation rates varied spatially, with higher depredation in areas which received greater fishing pressure. A novel application of Tweedie generalised additive mixed models indicated that depth, the number of other boats fishing within 5 km and survey period influenced depredation rates for fishing trips from west coast boat ramps. For the Exmouth Gulf ramps, fishing pressure and decreasing latitude positively affected the number of fish depredated. These results highlight the important influence of spatial variation in fishing pressure. The occurrence of higher depredation rates in areas which receive greater fishing pressure may indicate the formation of a behavioural association in the depredating sharks. This study is the first quantitative assessment of shark depredation in an Australian recreational fishery, and provides important insights that can assist recreational fishers and managers in reducing depredation
Human dimensions researchers and fisheries managers have long recognized the value of exploring the heterogeneity that exists amongst recreational fishers. Understanding the differences between fishers has the potential to assist managers in developing targeted communication strategies, direct resources to active management more efficiently and improve understanding of how fishers will respond to changes in regulations or new management interventions. Human dimensions research has traditionally explored fisher heterogeneity through research into the different reasons why people choose to fish, as well as attempts to categorize or segment fishers using variable based approaches. These studies have, to date, relied primarily on large scale, quantitative survey techniques with a particular focus on fisher avidity and commitment. They are therefore limited in their ability to explain how different fishing motivations might interact within an individual, why particular motivations are prioritized, and how this might influence fisher behavior and attitudes. This study trialed a mixed methods approach to understanding fisher heterogeneity based primarily on motivations using a case study in NSW, Australia. This trial involved utilizing a person-centered approach known as Latent Class Analysis (LCA), followed by qualitative, in depth focus group discussions. This revealed five distinct fisher classes; Social fishers, Trophy Fishers, Outdoor Enthusiasts, Generalists and Hunter-Gatherers, each with distinct and significantly different combinations of catch and non-catch-related motivations. The qualitative analysis sought to explore the intersection of motivations and attitudes towards management within and across the different fisher classes. The results highlighted the importance of more detailed examination of the intersection between motivations and attitudes in future LCA, with a particular focus on the potential influence of mastery (or challenge/experience) motivations on fisher attitudes towards marine and fisheries management approaches.
A spatially and temporally stratified scientific observer program was used to examine variation in the diversity and composition of retained and discarded catches in a coastal charter-vessel line fishery. The 181 observed trips yielded 126 species and 13,357 individuals. Overall, 88 and 92 species were retained and discarded, respectively, with 34 and 38 species either solely retained or discarded. The 10 most numerous species accounted for 75% of total individuals, with 40 species encountered only once. Regional-scale differences in retained and discarded catch compositions and diversity were consistent across seasons, with species diversity being greatest in the northern region that encompassed the convergence zone of tropical and temperate waters. Within-region port-related differences in catch compositions were driven by particular species being captured in different quantities and frequencies from vessels at one port compared to the other, and together with the high level of trip-to-trip variation in catches, were the result of localised and often vessel-specific differences in fishing practices, grounds and habitats fished, and client/operator preferences. Habitat-related differences in catch compositions were greatest between bare sand and structured reef and reef/gravel substrata. Discarding patterns varied among regions, with 25–52% of individuals with a prescribed legal length limit, and 14–72% of individuals with no length limit, being discarded. Discarding was due to a combination of compliance with length-based and no-take regulations, as well as client and operator preferences for particular species and sizes, and not the result of catch quotas. The results show that assessments and management of charter fisheries need to consider the human dimensions, as well as the ecological, aspects of catch variation.
A new methodology based in the use of fishers’ knowledge and cost-effective tools to obtain information about marine recreational fisheries (MRF) is presented. The squid and cuttlefish fishery of the Ría of Vigo (NW Spain) was selected because it is managed in a data-poor environment. In-depth interviews (57) were conducted with fishers, collecting ecological and socio-economic information. A cartography of fishing grounds based on their knowledge was obtained, while the intensity of effort and catches was mapped by the monitoring of two vessels with low-cost GPS data loggers. The 102 shore anglers and 248 recreational boats catch 8 t/year of European squid Loligo vulgaris and 11 t/year of common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis (11% of total catches on these species in the area). Shore anglers fish from 11 ports, while boat fishers use 14 fishing grounds (covering 30 km2). Most of the catches (86%) are landed by boats, and their CPUE is higher in the outer part of the Ría of Vigo. The use of fishers’ knowledge and cost-effective monitoring is encouraged to obtain information for the management of MRF. Given the economic contribution of MRF (260,000 €/year in direct expenses), this activity should be considered in the regulations.
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.