Social, economic and environmental effects of closing commercial fisheries to enhance recreational fishing
Recreational fishing mortality can have a major impact on coastal fish populations, bringing recreational fishers into conflict with commercial fisheries. This article reviews exclusion zones for commercial fishing, or ‘recreational fishing areas’ as a solution to the conflict between commercial and recreational fisheries. Recently designated recreational fishing areas in the state of Queensland, Australia are examined as a case-study. The goal of recreational fishing areas is to enhance recreational fishing and provide economic opportunities through charter fishing. However, recently designated recreational fishing areas in Queensland have not been thoroughly assessed for their social, economic and environmental impacts and they are not integrated within existing management frameworks for fisheries. The designation of recreational fishing areas is thus a shift away from evidence-based management in Queensland's fisheries and has likely occurred solely for political reasons – there are more voters in the recreational fishery than commercial fishery. In Queensland, excluding commercial fishing on its own is unlikely to result in long-term benefits to recreational fisheries because recreational harvest is a major component of fish harvest for some key species and there is no legislated limit to recreational harvest. Current political attention on recreational fishing areas provides an opportunity for fisheries managers, politicians, conservation groups and the public to discuss what is needed to manage sustainable coastal fisheries. In particular, recreational fishing areas need to be combined with efforts to enhance stewardship among recreational fishers if they are to be successful in the long-term.
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified