In northern industrialized countries, the inland fisheries sector has long been dominated by recreational fisheries, which normally exploit fish for leisure or subsistence and provide many (poorly investigated) benefits to society. Various factors constrain the development and existence of inland fisheries, such as local user conflicts, low social priority and inadequate research and funding. In many cases, however, degradation of the environment and loss of aquatic habitat are the predominant concerns for the sustainability of inland fisheries. The need for concerted effort to prevent and reduce environmental degradation, as well as conservation of freshwater fish and fisheries as renewable common pool resources or entities in their own right is the greatest challenge facing sustainable development of inland waters. In inland fisheries management, the declining quality of the aquatic environment coupled with long-term inadequate and often inappropriate fisheries management has led to an emphasis on enhancement practices, such as stocking, to mitigate anthropogenic stress. However, this is not always the most appropriate management approach. Therefore, there is an urgent need to alter many traditional inland fisheries management practices and systems to focus on sustainable development.
This paper reviews the literature regarding the inputs needed for sustainability of inland fisheries in industrialized countries. To understand better the problems facing sustainable inland fisheries management, the inland fisheries environment, its benefits, negative impacts and constraints, as well as historical management, paradigms, trends and current practices are described. Major philosophical shifts, challenges and promising integrated management approaches are envisaged in a holistic framework. The following are considered key elements for sustainable development of inland fisheries: communication, information dissemination, education, institutional restructuring, marketing outreach, management plans, decision analysis, socioeconomic evaluation and research into the human dimension, in addition to traditional biological and ecological sciences. If these inputs are integrated with traditional fisheries management practices, the prospects for sustainability in the inland fisheries will be enhanced.