Taking a hard look at the common belief that recreational fishing accounts for only 2-3% of total landings in the U.S., a new study published in the journal Science (August 26th) reveals that recreational catches account for nearly a quarter of the total take of over fished populations, including many of the most economically valuable species such as red snapper, red drum, lingcod, and bocaccio.
For specific depleted populations in the U.S.--particularly the large charismatic fishes that people care about most--recreational landings outstrip commercial landings. This is true for red snapper (59% recreational) and gag (56%) in the Gulf of Mexico, red drum in the South Atlantic (93%), and bocaccio on the Pacific coast (87%), among others.
"The conventional wisdom is that recreational fishing is a small proportion of the total take, so it is largely overlooked," says lead author Felicia Coleman of Florida State University. "But if you remove the fish caught and used for fish sticks and fishmeal (pollock and menhaden) two strictly commercially caught species that account for over half of all U.S. landings - the recreational take rises to 10% nationally. And if you focus in on the populations identified by the Federal government as species of concern, it rises to 23%."
The study is the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of recreational saltwater fishing in the U.S. Using all available federal and state data, the authors formally compare commercial and recreational landings for the past 22 years - first for all federally managed fish, and then for species of concern (species officially classified by the National Marine Fisheries Service as "over-fished" or "experiencing over-fishing") both nationally and regionally. The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the U.S.'s largest philanth
Contact: Jessica Brown