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What’s the catch? – The importance of marine recreational fisheries

Von Harry Strehlow | 02.06.2022

OF Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries

Recreational anglers take a significant and variable amount of fish from individual stocks, it had to be included in the scientific stock calculation. However, angling is also an economic factor.

Next to commercial fishery, marine recreational fishery plays an important role in terms of the removal of biomass from fish stocks. For certain marine and diadromous species, recreational fishery catches can comprise a significant share of the total landings. At the same time, marine recreational fisheries have high social and economic value. Particularly for coastal and rural, disadvantaged areas, the recreational sector (angling tourism) can be an important source of income.

Despite its importance, research on marine recreational fisheries in Europe is still rather underdeveloped. Until recently, recreational fisheries science in Germany was limited to inland waters. For European marine waters, representative and comprehensive recreational fishery data was missing for the longest time. The regular collection of recreational fishery data in Europe started 2001 with the introduction of the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1639/2001). More about the historic development   

Although in principal recreational and commercial fishers are catching the same fish, they do not compete for the current quota. The quota is calculated on the basis of fished biomass. Up until now, recreational catches have not been considered, because they were unknown. Including recreational catches in future stock assessments raises the perceived productivity of the stock proportionally, increasing the allowable catch by the amount of the recreational removals. Therefore, the total allowable catch of commercial fishery can remain stable, the new, higher, quota just needs to be allocated in a different way. A suitable management should incorporate the interest of the recreational and commercial sector taking into account the high socioeconomic importance of the marine recreational fishery.

Initial investigations showed that recreational cod harvests and releases in the western Baltic Sea were substantial. In fact, the annual recreational removals of German fishery between the years 2005 and 2010 were estimated to be about 50% of the annual German commercial landings from the same area. Studies from other EU Member States in the Baltic Sea, e.g., Denmark and Sweden, showed that recreational removals of cod in the Baltic Sea should not be ignored.

The collection of recreational fishery data such as numbers of fishers and their catch is difficult and complex, associated with a variety of challenges. Read more about data collection in the expertise.

Figures & Facts

Sampling design and catch

What do anglers catch? When, where and how? What is the impact of recreational fisheries on individual fish stocks? What is the economic and social benefit of marine recreational fisheries?

Sampling design and catch


Development of the German data collection since 2003

Recreational fisheries sampling in Europe started with the introduction of the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1639/2001, requiring Member States to sample Bluefin tuna catches in all areas and Salmon in marine waters of the North and Baltic Sea.

Development of the German data collection since 2003

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