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Impact of Recreational Saltwater Fishing
Recreational saltwater fishing is often perceived as a minor player in the total U.S. saltwater catch, but in fact, fishing for fun accounted for 23 percent of the total catch of overfished populations in 2002, a new 22-year analysis shows.
For certain depleted populations of large fish, including red drum, red snapper and bocaccio (a rockfish), recreational fishing in U.S. waters removed more fish (by weight) than commercial fishing. In the Gulf of Mexico, recreational fishers snagged 64 percent of the catch from "populations of concern" populations that are overfished or are experiencing overfishing. In the South Atlantic, recreational fishing accounted for 38 percent of the catch from populations of concern. Overall, recreational fishing accounted for 4 percent of the total U.S. saltwater catch in 2002, or 10 percent if large industrial fisheries are excluded from the estimate, Felicia C. Coleman and colleagues report.
By comparison, recreational saltwater fishing has traditionally been thought to account for only 2 percent of the total U.S. saltwater catch. "If the goal of fishery management is to sustain viable populations and ecosystems, then recreational as well as commercial fishing require effective regulations," the authors write.
This research is published online at Science Express.
Daniel B. Kane
26 August 2004