New Study Says Recreational Fishing Harms Endangered Species

When it comes to overfishing and the depletion of stocks of threatened and endangered fish species, the focus is usually on commercial fishing. But a new study published today in the journal Science claims that recreational fishing has a much larger impact on those stocks than previously assumed. A team of researchers analyzed the National Marine Fisheries Service’s online database and regional sources of information and concluded that while recreational fishing accounts for a relatively small percentage of the total saltwater fish catch, it accounts for almost a quarter of impact on “species of concern.” In some areas that number rises to 64 percent (off the Gulf Coast) and for some individual species it rises to 93 percent (the red drum). Researcher Felicia Coleman acknowledged that most sport fishers are conservation minded, and that each individual’s catch is limited, but added that the sheer number of fishers was having a huge impact. She said, “Recreational fishing should no longer be seen as benign and needs to be better managed.”