Study says recreational anglers need more and better info
A little education could go a long way toward spurring more support for shark conservation among recreational anglers, said a team of scientists who recently questioned anglers on the subject.
The study, led by University of Miami scientists, showed that recreational anglers were more supportive of shark management and conservation if they had prior knowledge of shark conservation.
“The recreational fishing community has a long history of supporting marine conservation efforts, so there is great value in trying to understand which factors affect their behavior and decision making, especially for threatened species such as sharks,” said Austin Gallagher, UM adjunct assistant professor and lead author of the study.
The survey of 158 anglers in South Florida showed many catch-and-release anglers recognized that sharks can suffer from post-release mortality but it is still an under-appreciated consequence, particularly for species that are inherently sensitive, such as hammerheads.
The data also revealed that many recreational anglers are supportive of marine protected areas for threatened shark species, however that climate change is a larger perceived threat to sharks than recreational fishing.
The findings are encouraging in that many anglers care about shark conservation, but they don’t always know what they can do, including simply changing some fishing techniques to improve shark survival.
The findings suggest a need for increased education and outreach on the impacts of catch-and-release angling on sharks to improve survival rates and conservation of threatened sharks.
“Our study identifies important disconnects between existing scientific evidence on the impacts of recreational fishing on certain shark species and existing conservation beliefs among anglers,” said Gallagher. “This is a good starting point for new conversations on sustainability within the fishing community.”