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


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

Recreational fishing, or angling, is a traditional pastime woven into the fabric of cultures worldwide. Motivations for and attitudes toward angling, species preferences, choice of fishing techniques and locations, and angler satisfaction vary as much as fisheries resources are diverse. Despite this diversity, all anglers are bound together by their participation in conservation and the individual and societal benefits accrued through interacting with fisheries resources. Individual anglers receive tangible cognitive and physical benefits through participation, angler expenditures create jobs and economic impact to local and regional communities, and contributions by anglers to nongovernmental organizations, excise taxes paid, and fishing licenses purchased provide funds to support the necessary work required to acquire, manage, conserve, and guide the wise use of fisheries resources.

Because angling is a primary driver of fisheries conservation, stagnation or decline in angling participation in many locations, despite population growth, is a major concern to management agencies. This trend in stagnation/decline threatens to erode the support for recreational fishing, both political and economic. To combat these concerns, many management agencies are actively engaging in recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts designed to stop the decline and begin to regrow the angling population. The recent increase in participation that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated that a considerable proportion of the population is situationally amenable to participating in angling. However, time will tell if this pandemic bump can be sustained long term or if these new anglers withdraw from the pursuit when alternative opportunities return.

To address long-term trends in angling participation, we hosted a symposium at the 146th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Kansas City in 2016. The goals of this symposium were to examine a plethora of issues surrounding angling participation, provide a synthesized reference of the current understanding of these issues and recent developments from empirical research, and establish a foundation to help increase the rate of angling participation in the future. Following a successful symposium, the organizers decided that a textbook on this subject was necessary and proceeded to design the table of contents included herein. Authors were selected based on their expertise in the subject matter. Our objective was not to create a how-to guide, but instead to produce a comprehensive evaluation of how fisheries conservation is conducted and funded within the context of the current paradigm and to discuss potential for expanding or even replacing that paradigm with a more inclusive model. In some cases, this requires the reader to think outside of the box.