Recreational saltwater angler behaviours and attitudes regarding shark encounters and conservation

paperPublished online on 21 December 2015

Catching sharks: recreational saltwater angler behaviours and attitudes regarding shark encounters and conservation

Kate Mcclellan Press, John Mandelman, Elizabeth Burgess, Steven J. Cooke,
Vivian M. Nguyen, Andy J. Danylchuk


  1. With the increasing popularity of recreational angling around the world, there is a need to better understand the potential contribution of recreational fishing to reported shark population declines. However, the nature and perception of shark encounters – a fundamental precursor to future research, management and conservation measures aimed to increase shark survival – is not well documented in recreational fisheries.
  2. Five hundred and ninety recreational saltwater anglers responded to the survey and reported their experiences targeting or incidentally catching sharks, as well as their attitudes toward sharks, shark fishing techniques, and shark conservation and management.
  3. The survey found sharks were caught regularly, with 57% of respondents commonly targeting sharks and 93% of respondents having caught a shark at least once. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents released the last shark that they caught and most respondents often or always practised catch-and-release when catching sharks.
  4. The survey revealed that avid anglers have positive attitudes toward sharks and shark conservation and have a desire to handle and release sharks in ways that will increase their likelihood of survival.
  5. However, the survey also revealed that there are a variety of situational factors (e.g. target fish, fishing platform) that influence the choices that anglers make while fishing, which may influence adherence to catch-and-release methods.
  6. Based on their positive attitudes toward sharks, recreational anglers may be strong allies for the development, dissemination, and adoption of species and situational-specific best practice catch-and-release guidelines for this group of fishes within the wider recreational saltwater angling community.

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, Early View, doi: 10.1002/aqc.2581.



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