Understanding angler responses to shark depredation

Published on
19 November 2021

When fishing bites: Understanding angler responses to shark depredation

Grace A. Casselberry, Ezra M. Markowitz, Kelly Alves, Joseph Dello Russo, Gregory B. Skomal, Andy J. Danylchuk


Shark depredation, the full or partial removal of a hooked fish by a shark before it is landed, is anecdotally increasing in the United States. Perceptions of depredation by anglers and fishing guides may influence their behavior and have cascading effects on sharks and recreational fisheries. However, to date, these perceptions have not been broadly quantified. To better understand how anglers and guides respond to shark depredation in recreational fisheries, we used an online survey open to saltwater anglers in North America, distributed electronically via social media and online platforms. Of the 541 respondents, 77% had experienced depredation in nearshore and pelagic fisheries in the last five years, with depredation more commonly reported in the southeastern United States. Emotional responses to depredation were significantly different between anglers and guides, with the latter feeling more intense negative emotions. Behavioral changes in response to depredation, such as targeting and harvesting sharks, were driven largely by negative emotional responses and perceptions of sharks as threats to target species, while changes to protect target species varied with positive emotional responses and angler demographics. Guides were predominantly concerned about increased mortality to their target species and loss of trophy fish from the population. In fact, 87% of guides experienced depredation when fishing with clients and overwhelmingly reported that depredation has a negative effect on their livelihood. Overall, these results can be used to help inform strategies to reduce depredation while accounting for the values of stakeholder groups, particularly anglers and those advocating for shark conservation.

Fisheries Research, Volume 246, DOI: 10.1016/j.fishres.2021.106174


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