Aquatic Stewardship Education in Theory and Practice

Improving Our Understanding of the Theory and Practice of Aquatic Stewardship Education

Barbara A. Knuth


Abstract.—Patterns of human behavior, consumption, and resource use have contributed to declines in fisheries populations and degradation of aquatic habitat. Recreational anglers and boaters are among the key stakeholders who should be concerned about such changes and empowered to adopt behaviors that minimize adverse impacts on aquatic environments. Definitions of aquatic stewardship should include focus on human behaviors, which may be externally or internally motivated, and contribute to a local, regional, or global impact. The National Outreach and Communication Program, prepared and implemented through the collaborative efforts of the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, sets forth a vision for increasing sportfishing and boating participation and enhancing aquatic stewardship. Many other government and nongovernment organizations also strive to enhance aquatic stewardship. This proceedings volume results from a symposium on The Theory and Practice of Aquatic Stewardship Education, held at the 135th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Anchorage, Alaska. The goal of the symposium and this text is to advance our understanding of (1) how stewardship is defined in theory and practice, (2) the approaches that are necessary to promote and foster desirable stewardship behaviors, and (3) how measures of aquatic stewardship might be used to evaluate progress toward goals. We emphasize the importance of including both recreational fishing and boating activities in discussions of aquatic stewardship.