Anglers often dodge criticism of plummeting fish populations by entirely blaming commercial fishing. This study points out that, while commercial fishing kills fish at lower levels of the sea, anglers kill higher up. Overall, they directly kill 4% of fish in the sea. Species such as red drum, bocaccio, and red snapper, are most vulnerable.
"We examined data from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) online databases."
"We developed a comprehensive landings database with data provided by the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey, NMFS science centers and fishery management councils, multistate marine fisheries commissions, and state natural resource agencies."
ANGLERS KILL 4% OF MARINE FISH IN USA
"Recreational landings in 2002 account for 4% of total marine fish landed in the United States."
OVERFISHED SPECIES TAKEN
"It affects many of the most-valued overfished species - including red drum, bocaccio, and red snapper - all of which are taken primarily in the recreational fishery."
IN SOME FISH POPULATIONS, ANGLERS HOOK MORE
FISH IN USA THAN COMMERCIAL FISHING
"Discards are not included in this analysis, so these results underestimate likely impacts. Current regulatory methods have done little to constrain recreational fisheries, and for some major fish populations, recreational landings in the United States outstrip commercial landings, notably for red drum in the South Atlantic (93% recreational), bocaccio on the Pacific Coast (87%), and red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico (59%)."
POPULATION BALANCE UPSET
Top level predators are vital to the natural rhythm of life in the ocean.
"Commercial and recreational fishing have similar demographic and ecological effects on fished populations. They truncate size and age structures, reduce biomass, and alter community composition. Whereas commercial fisheries fish intensely on both lower levels (e.g., menhaden and anchovies) and upper levels (top-level predators) of the food web, the recreational sector concentrates on the latter. All these fishery removals can cause cascading trophic effects that alter the structure, function, and productivity of marine ecosystems."
"If the goal of fishery management is to sustain viable populations and ecosystems, then recreational as well as commercial fishing requires effective regulations."