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

Chapter 5. Diversity of Anglers: Drivers and Implications for Fisheries Management

Len M. Hunt, Robert Arlinghaus, David Scott, and Gerard Kyle


Fishing for recreation dates back at least 4,000 years ago when the first images of recreational anglers were reported from Egypt (Pitcher and Hollingworth 2002). It was widespread in Europe by the 13th century and has substantially grown with industrialization across the world (FAO 2012; see Pitcher and Hollingworth 2002 for more historic details). The 15th century English publication Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle (attributed to Berners [2018]) describes the activity of recreational fishing with hook, rod, and line and the diversity of fishing styles that were tailored to catch different fish species in different settings. Later, Walton and Cotton (1935) described the spiritual and deeply leisure-based aspects of 17th century recreational fishing. Recreational fishing is now pursued in most countries, except maybe the poorest (FAO 2012; Arlinghaus et al. 2015), in part because of increasing wealth and leisure time (Smith 1986) as well as advances in information and technology that facilitate (1) access to fishing sites (e.g., boats, passenger vehicles, snowmobiles, Global Positioning System devices), (2) the finding of vulnerable fish (e.g., sonar, downriggers), and (3) the capture of fish (e.g., artificial fishing lures and hooks). The ingenuity of people, combined with traditions and customs, has resulted in a rich mosaic of recreational fisheries that are characterized by diverse fishers and fishing styles that encompass the continuum from harvest-dominated to voluntary catch and release and from fishing with a pole in a local pond to offshore fishing for billfish in the open ocean.

Angling is a specific method of fishing involving the use of a hook and line that is closely attended by an individual to capture aquatic species. Angling represents the most common capture method of fish by recreational fishers (Arlinghaus and Cooke 2009). Consequently, we use the term “angling” synonymously with “recreational fishing” in this chapter, acknowledging that in some areas of the world, such as Scandinavia, recreational fishing is conducted with gill nets, traps, and many other typically commercial gear. Similarly, in North America some fish are harvested with bows, while recreational spearfishing is common around the world. We also note that in many areas of the world, people use angling methods for commercial and subsistence purposes. Given the focus of the book and the fact that “angling” is a typical umbrella term for modern recreational fisheries, we use the term “angling” here for convenience.