Recreational fisheries are prime examples of strongly coupled social-ecological systems (SESs) where humans and ecological systems interact intimately across scales (Arlinghaus et al. 2017). The tight linkage of people and nature in coupled SESs is not new to fisheries scientists and managers. Despite the early recognition of the importance of the social aspects in fisheries science (Gordon 1954; Larkin 1978; Aas and Ditton 1998), there has nevertheless, been a tendency among freshwater recreational fisheries scholars and managers to take a “piscicentric” (Cowx et al. 2010), “reductionistic” (Aas 2002) and overall “narrow” (Pope et al. 2016) view that tends to focus on local biological and social issues and particular target species. For example, many studies in recreational fisheries science deal with how much recreational harvesting a local exploited fish population can withstand or descriptively describe the human dimensions (e.g., demographics and motivations) of a regional or state-level population of anglers. Although such “case-study” based research is certainly valuable, particularly in early phases of the scientific study of recreational fisheries in specific regions, the perspective omits the complex social and economic dimensions that typically drive local- or regional-scale features and patterns such as cumulative fishing effort or the size of a regional angling population (Arlinghaus et al. 2008; Fenichel et al. 2013; Hunt et al. 2013; Pope et al. 2016). Moreover, all local or even regional recreational fisheries are embedded in other higher-order social-ecological systems, such as land use systems and society at large (Hunt et al. 2013; Arlinghaus et al. 2015, Pope et al. 2016). Changes and developments in the ecological and social fabrics of this broader SES will almost always exert effects, directly or indirectly, on a particular fishery and create many trade-offs related to a range of ecosystem services provided by ecosystems (Pope et al. 2016). Relatedly, a local recreational fishery will be sensitive to changes in regional ecological factors, technology, communication channels, and altered norms and expectations of society about what fisheries managers and anglers ought to do (e.g., fish welfare debate in central Europe; Arlinghaus et al. 2012), or altered fishing participation in response to urbanization and demographic change (Arlinghaus et al. 2015). Therefore, a “reductionistic” perspective risks missing important cross-scale effects. For example, if one is interested in for seeing developments of angling participation in a given society, it is worthwhile to not only examine narrow ecological questions, but to ask general questions about societal-level developments that shape the values and interests of members of society to engage in fishing relative to other leisure activities. Similarly, when a fisheries manager is designing management interventions, it may not be sufficient to be alert to the expectations of local resource users because decisions about actions such as fish stocking or introduction of fish are very likely to affect stakeholders and their interests well beyond the core fisheries circle. In many western countries, biodiversity conservation has become an important societal goal (Arlinghaus et al. 2002; FAO 2012; Rahel 2016), and thus the appropriateness of a given management action is likely affected by cultural values and the way society thinks about desirable states of nature, even in abstract terms. Recreational science is well advised to capture these systematic effects of the social embedding of recreational fisheries. This chapter is an attempt to reach towards this goal.
Global participation in and public attitudes towards recreational fishing: international perspectives and developments
Arlinghaus, R., Aas, Ø., Alós, J., Arismendi, I., Bower, S., Carle, S., Czarkowski, T., Freire, K. M. F., Hu, J., Hunt, L., Lyach, R., Kapusta, A., Salmi, P., Schwab, A., Tsuboi, J., Trella, M., McPhee, D., Potts, W., Wolos, A., Yang, Z. (2018). Global participation in and public attitudes towards recreational fishing: international perspectives and developments. (Preprint), pp. 82
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