Fisheries Research 63 (2003) 295–298
Recreational Fisheries, Ecological, Economic and Social Evaluation Fish and Aquatic Resources, Vol. 8; Tony J. Pitcher, Charles Hollingworth (Eds.); Blackwell Science Ltd., Oxford, 271 pages, hardback, ISBN 0-632-06391-2 (£ 79.50) This book comprises the Proceedings of a Conference on Evaluating the Benefits of Recreational Fishing held in Vancouver in June 1999. The Preface tells us that at the conference it rapidly became evident that, despite much work and strong opinions, the field tended to lack consistency of approach and methodological rigour. However, it was realised that these weaknesses could be overcome. The editors in their most useful first chapter— Fishing for Fun: Where’s the Catch?—consider the four principal needs of recreational fisheries. These are, first and second, to obtain more accurate, detailed evaluation of direct and indirect ecological and economic impacts; thirdly, to systematise and carefully evaluate the social impacts; and fourthly, to implement adaptive management plans using information gathered by sport fishers, thereby bridging the gap to fishery scientists. It was evident from the conference that the principal requirements of recreational fisheries today are for recreational fisheries to receive equitable treatment with commercial and other fishery sectors (native, artisanal). Also there should be proper recognition of the conservation benefits of catch-and-release and of compliance with bag limits. Furthermore, there are clear scientific benefits to be had from sport fishers’ careful monitoring of abundance and change, and from well-managed data records and tag returns. In the second chapter—Recreational Fishing: Value is in the Eye of the Beholder—we learn that the recreational fishery ranges from those whose pursuit of large catches, and methods of subsequent disposal
brands them as unlicensed professionals, through the many variants of hunters, sport fishers, adventurers and social participants, to those who enjoy the open spaces and if they have a line in the water, do so merely to make an excuse for being there. The author of this chapter—Robert Kearney—provides three useful tables setting out the ecological, economic and social balance sheets for recreational fishing. An interesting chapter on the recreational and commercial fishers in the Namibian silver kob fishery shows that from recent data the recreational and commercial fisheries generate N$ 64.23 and N$ 24.23 per fish removed from the habitat, respectively. This is not the only fishery where the value of a recreational fishery is higher than the commercial and the Atlantic salmon recreational and commercial fisheries in Scotland show the same pattern. Chapter 6—Catch-and-release Recreational Fishing: A Historical Perspective—by David Policansky— will generate considerable interest and debate. The author says that C&R has been associated with changes in angler motivation and management issues. Crowding of fishing venues is receiving increasing attention from management agencies and even a state legislature. Catch-and-release is also becoming controversial on ethical and moral grounds. The author mentions one recent development and that is that C&R fishing represents an inappropriate use of or unacceptable cruelty to fish for no utilitarian purpose and gives examples of those who consider it so. The controversy over catch-and-release is continued in the following chapter—Controversy over Catch-and-release Recreational Fishing in Europe. For some in Europe, catch-and-release is an unethical and reprehensible fishing practice. They see fishing solely as a means of catching fish and when the angler’s catch goals or legal limit is attained, there should be no more fishing. These groups may regard catch-and-release as ‘playing with fish for no
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good reason’. For others in Europe, catch-and-release fishing is both an ethical and conservative approach to resource utilisation. The authors of this chapter discuss the two opposing views. Open-access sport fisheries also have their problems and these are highlighted in a chapter entitled Maintaining Quality in Recreational Fisheries: How Success Breeds Failure in Management of Open-access Sport Fisheries. The authors point out that where recreational fisheries are open to public access, there is a basic pathology in which success breeds failure; development of a quality fishing situation leads to increased fishing effort until quality is reduced to be no better than other situations with comparable costs and difficulties of access. In open-access fisheries, managers mainly react to the quality deterioration problem by trying to produce more fish and by using simple regulations such as bag and size limits. These tactics have never worked and as a result, high quality fishing is found only where fishing effort is severely restricted. An interesting chapter is that entitled The Importance of Angler Motivations in Sport Fishery Management by Barbara Calvert. A key remark under the section on Motivations reads Anglers may be inspired to go fishing by the desire to retain caught fish for consumption, or to keep as a trophy. Non-retention incentives which may also entice anglers to go on a fishing trip include the desire to fish for sport, to improve fishing skills, to test fishing gear, and to experience a challenge and thrill; management regulations and fish availability may also influence angler decision making. There are then four chapters describing recreational fishing in Germany, the Nordic countries, England and Wales and Alaska. There are certain features which are perhaps more pertinent to each of these regions and some are worth highlighting. For example, a prerequisite for recreational fishing in Germany is a governmental fishing license. This can only be acquired after having passed an examination which requires attending a training programme for a period of about 30 h. The minimum age for fishing varies between 7 and 12 years and a special children’s license is necessary. In Iceland both annual fishing expenditures and additional willingness-to-pay for the same fishing experience are far higher on average than in other Nordic countries. In addition,
the non-fishers’ mean willingness-to-pay for current state of fish stocks and current quality of recreational fisheries is higher in Iceland than elsewhere. The non-fishers willingness-to-pay for current state of fish stocks and current quality of recreational fisheries leads to a high estimated total in Denmark where the share of non-fishers is high in the population. The results imply that in Iceland recreational fishery is a business. Marine sport fisheries are also considered particularly with respect to the USA, South Africa and Australia. In South Africa marine sport fishing has, as a result of both poor compliance and an inadequate framework, directly resulted in the over-fishing of several populations/species of inshore predators and has contributed to the demise of several others. Not only are catch rates now well below the optimal sustainable levels, but ecosystem effects are also anticipated. The final chapter—The Next Chapter: Multicultural and Cross-disciplinary Progress in Evaluating Recreational Fisheries—by Øystein Aas summarises measures to implement in the way forward. As the author says, recreational fishing is increasingly important world-wide, and there is a growing demand for multidisciplinary research aimed at assisting science-based fisheries management. In his closing comments the author discusses some challenges for such research including: cultural and regional differences in practices, resources and knowledge; research biased by concentrating on salmonids and other high-profile fishes and poorly developed scholarly communication between Europe and North America. This book will be of immense value for those organisations that need to consider the evaluation of recreational fisheries. Already some major international fishery organisations, such as the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation, are undertaking such measures where certain fish species are becoming of more recreational than commercial value. Derek Mills Valerna, Aldie Crescent, Darnick, by Melrose TD6 9AY Roxburgh, UK Tel./fax: +44-1896-822-719 E-mail address: [email protected]
(D. Mills) doi:1016/S0165-7836(03)00128-0