Fishing Blind: Highlighting the Need for the Development and Communication of Species-Specific Guidelines for Catch-and-Release

Catch-and-release is popular for many angled species.  Sometimes fish are released voluntarily due to angler conservation ethic and in other cases fish are released to comply with formal regulations.  No matter the reason for release, guidelines for capture, handling, and release should be developed to ensure the intended outcome of catch and release – maximize survival and minimize impacts to fish fitness.  While general catch and release guidelines exist and are made available by most fish and wildlife agencies, catch and release methods, promotion, education, implementation, and enforcement can be improved. Indeed, very few organizations provide species-specific guidelines. Even when species-specific information exists, it is unclear how to best share such information with anglers.  This session has three focal areas:  1) species-specific guidelines for catch and release fisheries based on existing science; 2) case studies of agencies and organizations that have successfully (or failed!) implemented species-specific outreach, guidelines, marketing or fisheries techniques that have resulted in changed angler behavior (including, training, enforcement, social media, guide/fleet network, manufacturers, outfitters), and 3) a panel or interactive session to facilitate discussion.  This symposium will highlight the need for species-specific guidance for catch and release fisheries, especially when the purpose is for conservation, while summarizing the information currently available from research. It will also showcase success stories where education, outreach, marketing, and/or enforcement have led to policy changes and behavioral changes on behalf of anglers. Our goal is to generate discussions among groups of experts (researchers, managers, fishers, guides and marketing experts) on developing best practices for catch and release and how best to influence anglers’ behavior.
Steven J. Cooke, Lynn Palensky, MPA and Andy J. Danylchuk
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