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

Chapter 3. Angler Influence on Policy and Legislation

William M. Twardek, Nicolas R. W. Lapointe, Andy J. Danylchuk, Robert J. Lennox, Ryan Roberts, and Steven J. Cooke


Recreational angling is an activity that occurs around the globe and engages diverse participants (Cowx 2002). Participation rates vary widely among jurisdictions but, on aggregate, are estimated to be about 10–11% of the public across the industrialized world (Arlinghaus and Cooke 2009; Arlinghaus et al. 2015). There are numerous socioeconomic benefits associated with angling, which include supporting livelihoods and regional economies, fostering interpersonal relationships, and contributing to psychological well-being (reviewed in Arlinghaus and Cooke 2009; Tufts et al. 2015). The motivations for angling vary widely, ranging from harvest-oriented to simply spending time with friends and family independent of angling catch success (reviewed in Fedler and Ditton 1994). A common theme that has emerged is that anglers are often interested and engaged in various aspects of environmental conservation and fisheries management (Granek et al. 2008).

Recreational anglers connect with aquatic systems and the environment in many ways (Granek et al. 2008). The basis for this engagement undoubtedly relates to individual motivations for angling and the values that they place on natural resources, fish populations, and fisheries, as well as their perceptions of threats facing the resources (Bruskotter and Fulton 2007). There are many examples where anglers have taken leadership roles in restoring degraded fish habitat (Middleton 2001), enhancing fish populations via stocking (Tufts et al. 2015), and supporting and participating in research and stock assessment (Lucy and Davy 2000). Anglers share conservation-oriented messages with the broader public (Cobourn 1994) and other anglers (Bruskotter and Fulton 2008; Guckian et al. 2018), engage in various aspects of policy formulation and refinement, or otherwise directly contribute to recreational fisheries management (reviewed in Granek et al. 2008). Despite top-down regulatory schemes being common in recreational fisheries (whether in the public domain or under various fishing rights schemes), anglers regularly participate in, or otherwise influence, management activities via policy and legislative mechanisms. Bottom-up community-based fisheries management (such as voluntary catch and release, informal bag limits, and sanctuaries) can also serve as the basis for what eventually become formal regulations (Cooke et al. 2013), which provides further opportunities for recreational anglers to influence policy and legislation.