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

Chapter 4. A Perspective on Human Dimensions of R3 and the Fisheries Manager’s Role

Kevin M. Hunt


Recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) is a strategy increasingly used in the fisheries management community to address falling or stagnant rates of participation in recreational fishing. The last thing we, as a profession or as anglers, want to see is for recreational fishing to become irrelevant to society; R3 efforts are fundamentally designed to prevent that from happening. This is not a typical data-driven chapter, nor will it be a primer on human dimensions research. As someone who has conducted human dimensions research for numerous natural resources agencies over the past 30 years and who is a trained fisheries scientist once employed by a state natural resources management agency to manage urban fisheries, it is designed to highlight how I believe human dimensions research can and should be used within an R3 perspective by of those managing fisheries resources.

To paraphrase Decker et al. (2012), human dimensions is the study of how people value fisheries, how they want fisheries to be managed, and how they affect and are affected by fisheries and fisheries management decisions. Human dimensions of fisheries research has been around since the 1970s, aided by federal legislation such as the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (U.S. Public Law 94-265), which gave social and economic research legitimacy in marine recreational fisheries decision-making processes. This legitimacy translated into research interest in marine and inland recreational fishing and early works by Driver and Knopf (1976), Bryan (1977), Hudgins (1984), Graefe and Ditton (1986), and Brown (1987), among others, began a one-half century of investigation into how people interact with fisheries resources and their attitudes toward fisheries management. From an academic perspective, human dimensions research incorporates broad fields of inquiry into investigating aspects of natural resource management and has historically been performed by psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, demographers, economists, geographers, and political scientists. Each of these perspectives seeks to understand the human dimensions from their unique point of view, and together, their insights help managers better understand various aspects of the people side of fisheries management and decision making.