Small Impoundment Management in North America

Chapter 14: Community Fishing Ponds

Richard T. Eades and Thomas J. Lang


In the USA and elsewhere, populations are shifting from rural to suburban and urban locations. Much of the population relocating to these areas has participated in recreational angling during their lives (Murdock et al. 1992; Long 2003). However, as more people leave their rural lifestyles behind, participation rates in outdoor recreational activities such as hunting and fishing have steadily declined (Murdock et al. 1996; Kelly 2004; USDI 2007). Fishing participation is much lower for urban residents than rural residents (Schramm and Dennis 1993; USFWS 1999). Factors contributing to lower participation by urbanites include traditional neglect of urban waters by fisheries agencies, socio-cultural trends (including “lack of time” to fish), increased availability of organized recreational activities, and increases in sedentary lifestyles (Bissell et al. 1998; Fedler and Ditton 2001; Jackson 2005). To address these issues, states place greater emphasis on providing fishing opportunities in cities and towns (Hunt et al. 2008). Providing fishing opportunities that are close to home is seen as one of the best ways to recruit new anglers and bring back inactive anglers (Balsman and Shoup 2008; Hutt and Jackson 2008).

Providing fishing opportunities in urban areas and communities has proven beneficial. Because state fisheries management agencies rely on the sale of fishing licenses for funding, the continuing decline in participation directly impacts their abilities to fulfill their missions (Balsman and Shoup 2008; Gilliland 2008). Providing quality fishing experiences in urban and community settings enhances agencies’ ability to maintain their licensed angler base, reach traditionally underrepresented groups (i.e., women and minorities), and increase public support and political effectiveness (Schramm and Dennis 1993; Pajak 1994; Schramm and Edwards 1994; Gray and Swanson 1998).