Harmonizing recreational fisheries and conservation objectives for aquatic biodiversity in inland waters


  • I. G. Cowx,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Hull, International Fisheries Institute, Hull, HU6 7RX, U.K.
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  • R. Arlinghaus,

    1. Department of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany
    2. Inland Fisheries Management Laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Philippstrasse 13, 10115 Berlin, Germany
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  • S. J. Cooke

    1. Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology and Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, KIS 5B6 Canada
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Tel.: +44 (0) 1482 466427; fax: +44 (0) 1482470129; email: i.g.cowx@hull.ac.uk


The importance of recreational fisheries to local and national economies, and as a generator of immense social welfare throughout the developed world, is well established. Development in the sector and its interaction with non-fishery-related nature conservation objectives for aquatic biodiversity, however, have the potential to generate conflict. This article reviews the intersection between recreational fisheries and nature conservation goals for aquatic biodiversity with specific reference to inland waters in industrialized countries, and the principal management activities and constraints that can lead to conflicts. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis was used to review the issues facing sectoral development and identify options for future advancement of recreational fisheries to ameliorate potential conflicts with nature conservation goals. It is concluded that reconciliation of recreational fisheries and modern conservation perspectives is both possible and desirable, because many conservation problems also benefit fisheries quality. Angler buy-in to conservation is probable if (1) management scales are small, (2) threats to conservation originate from outside the fisheries sectors and (3) ecological awareness for the conservation problem is high. If these aspects are not present, reconciliation of recreational fisheries and nature conservation goals is less likely, risking both the aquatic biodiversity and the future of angling. To address these issues, enforcement of legislation and continued communication with angler communities is necessary, as well as development of integrated management policies that build on the instrumental values of aquatic biodiversity for recreational fisheries, while curtailing the more insidious threats to such biodiversity that originate directly from the recreational fisheries sector.