Catch and Release in Marine Recreational Fisheries

A Human Dimensions Perspective on Catch-and-Release Fishing

R. B. Ditton


There are several as yet unanswered questions that deserve our attention, namely, the who, what, where, and why of catch-and-release fishing in marine waters of the United States. First, we have no reliable estimates of the number of marine anglers in the United States that practice catch-and-release fishing. Second, whereas anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate the number of people who practice catch-and-release fishing is on the increase, we cannot be sure, since there are so many different definitions of catch and release. Accordingly, generic survey questions that inquire about anglers’ “catch-and-release” behavior do not yield useful information. Third, we know little about which variables would predict why some people practice catch and release and others do not. And lastly, there is no agreement as to the best approaches for promoting the adoption and diffusion of this practice to other anglers. Ad hoc approaches seem to be the order of the day. These are fundamental questions that need to be answered, if we expect to see meaningful “changes” in fishing behavior soon.