The Angler in the Environment: Social, Economic, Biological, and Ethical Dimensions

Development of an Environmental Standard for Recreational Fishing Tournaments

Ben K. Diggles, William Sawynok, and Leonard J. H. Olyott


Abstract.—Fishing tournaments are high profile events that are important to the recreational fishing industry. Tournaments are also under increasing scrutiny by governments, environmental groups, and the broader community. Much of this attention focuses on potential impacts on fish stocks, fish welfare in catch-and-release tournaments, and other issues such as potentially negative social impacts on local communities. The recreational fishing industry in Australia identified a need to be proactive in demonstrating sound environmental management of these events. The result was NEATFish, otherwise known as the Standard for National Environmental Assessment of Tournament Fishing. The NEATFish Standard is a novel concept that is based on a 1–5 star-rating system designed to provide tournament organizers with an objective assessment of how well their tournament meets certain environmental, social, and economic criteria. NEATFish was developed utilizing ISO 17050 with a pathway to allow 5-star events to migrate to a more robust certification under ISO 14001 if desired. The NEATFish Standard was developed with funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation after a comprehensive consultation process with key stakeholders in the recreational fishing industry, sponsors, insurance agencies, fisheries management agencies, environmental groups, and certification bodies. Benefits to participating tournaments include reduced insurance premiums, recognition by sponsors, and greater acceptance within the broader community. The standard is currently being considered for use by several organizations, including marine parks authorities. Development of the concept is continuing through establishment of an interactive Web site,, where tournament organizers can undertake the certification process and gain accreditation online, greatly increasing the utility and uptake of the standard.