Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Fisheries Research 211 (2019) 247–255.

doi 10.1016/j.fishres.2018.10.019


US government work.


Recreational fisheries (RF) are complex social-ecological systems that play an important role in aquatic environments while generating significant social and economic benefits around the world. The nature of RF is diverse and rapidly evolving, including the participants, their priorities and behaviors, and the related ecological impacts and social and economic benefits. RF can lead to negative ecological impacts, particularly through overexploitation of fish populations and spread of non-native species and genotypes through stocking. Hence, careful management and monitoring of RF is essential to sustain these ecologically and socioeconomically important resources. This special issue on recreational fisheries contains diverse research, syntheses, and perspectives that highlight the advances being made in RF research, monitoring, management, and practice, which we summarize here. Co-management actions are rising, often involving diverse interest groups including government and non-government organizations; applying collaborative management practices can help balance social and economic benefits with conservation targets. Technological and methodological advances are improving the ability to monitor biological, social, and economic dynamics of RF, which underpin the ability to maximize RF benefits through management actions. To ensure RF sustainability, much research focuses on the ecological aspects of RF, as well as the development of management and angling practices that reduce negative impacts on fish populations. For example, angler behavior can be influenced to conform to conservation-minded angling practices through regulations, but is often best accomplished through growing bottom-up social change movements. Anglers can also play an important role in fisheries monitoring and conservation, including providing data on fish abundance and assemblages (i.e., citizen science). The increasing impacts that growing human populations are having on the global environment are threatening many of the natural resources and ecosystem services they provide, including valuable RF. However, with careful development of research initiatives, monitoring and management, sustainable RF can generate positive outcomes for both society and natural ecosystems and help solve allocation conflicts with commercial fisheries and conservation.