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Technological innovations in the recreational fishing sector: implications for fisheries management and policy

  • Cooke, Steven J.1
  • Venturelli, Paul2
  • Twardek, William M.1
  • Lennox, Robert J.3
  • Brownscombe, Jacob W.1, 4
  • Skov, Christian5
  • Hyder, Kieran6
  • Suski, Cory D.7
  • Diggles, Ben K.8
  • Arlinghaus, Robert9, 10
  • Danylchuk, Andy J.11
  • 1 Carleton University,
  • 2 Ball State University,
  • 3 LFI, Freshwater Biology, NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Nygårdsporten 112, 5006 Bergen, Norway
  • 4 Fisheries and Oceans Canada,
  • 5 Technical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua),
  • 6 Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS),
  • 7 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
  • 8 DigsFish Services Pty Ltd.,
  • 9 Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries,
  • 10 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
  • 11 University of Massachusetts Amherst,
Published Article
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Publication Date
Feb 23, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11160-021-09643-1
PMID: 33642705
PMCID: PMC7900803
PubMed Central


Technology that is developed for or adopted by the recreational fisheries sector (e.g., anglers and the recreational fishing industry) has led to rapid and dramatic changes in how recreational anglers interact with fisheries resources. From improvements in finding and catching fish to emulating their natural prey and accessing previously inaccessible waters, to anglers sharing their exploits with others, technology is completely changing all aspects of recreational fishing. These innovations would superficially be viewed as positive from the perspective of the angler (aside from the financial cost of purchasing some technologies), yet for the fisheries manager and policy maker, technology may create unintended challenges that lead to reactionary or even ill-defined approaches as they attempt to keep up with these changes. The goal of this paper is to consider how innovations in recreational fishing are changing the way that anglers interact with fish, and thus how recreational fisheries management is undertaken. We use a combination of structured reviews and expert analyses combined with descriptive case studies to highlight the many ways that technology is influencing recreational fishing practice, and, relatedly, what it means for changing how fisheries and/or these technologies need to be managed—from changes in fish capture, to fish handling, to how anglers share information with each other and with managers. Given that technology is continually evolving, we hope that the examples provided here lead to more and better monitoring of technological innovations and engagement by the management and policy authorities with the recreational fishing sector. Doing so will ensure that management actions related to emerging and evolving recreational fishing technology are more proactive than reactive.

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