Angler Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation: The Future of Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation

Chapter 11. Promoting Support for Conservation and Angling among the Nonangling Public

Nia Morales and Chelsey A. Crandall

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874738.ch11

Although this textbook focuses on recruitment, retention, and reactivation of anglers, it is important to recognize that many Americans do not currently and will likely never identify themselves as anglers. Only one in seven U.S. residents age 16 years old or older went fishing in 2016 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Census Bureau 2017), suggesting that the actively angling public represent a small minority. Whereas natural fisheries managers spend significant time and effort managing fisheries for the benefit of anglers, they are catering to this minority while overlooking the potential needs and opinions of the public majority. Nonanglers are often overlooked because they are perceived to have little to no relevance to fisheries management. In this chapter, we assert that this viewpoint may be somewhat shortsighted given that nonanglers may still interact with, have impacts on, care about, and benefit from fisheries and other aquatic resources. Thus, we contend that nonanglers should be considered in fisheries resources decision making and engagement efforts.

The public trust doctrine implies that our natural resources (e.g., fisheries) are defined as public property and generally held in trust by our government (i.e., resource management agencies) for responsible public use and subject to common public rights (McCay 1998; Organ and Batcheller 2009). Stakeholders must be included in the resource management process, and resource management agencies (i.e., trustees) have an obligation to consider stakeholder viewpoints when making resource management decisions. The public trust doctrine neither states nor implies that in order to be a stakeholder, one must be an active participant or otherwise use the resource. Consequently, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation has been criticized for its narrow stakeholder focus (Feldpausch-Parker et al. 2017), despite its characterization of fish and wildlife as a public trust. We must do more to engage a broader constituency of stakeholders.

State and federal fisheries managers have often focused on engaging the angling public while often overlooking other potential stakeholders, even though they represent the majority of people. However, resource agencies manage and conserve wildlife and fisheries for the benefit of all; therefore, management needs to connect with and consider members of the nonangling public. For the purposes of this chapter, we conceptualize the nonangling public as consisting of three groups: