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Report, 2015

A national data collection framework for recreational fishing

Karlsson, Martin; Ragnarsson Stabo, Henrik; Petersson, Erik; Carlstrand, Håkan; Thörnqvist, Stig


Knowledge and valuation of ecosystem services are important components for reaching the governmental goals for improving the natural environments. Recreational fishing has more than one million practitioners nationwide.Knowledge about the fishers and their catches increases the ability to assess whether the ecosystem services are retained. In addition, it gives means for evaluating the actions for the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of oceans, lakes and rivers. Knowledge of recreational fishing is also needed in order to follow up the details in its environmental objectives relating to outdoor recreation, tourism industry and the governmental goals in the open-air policy. The EU’s common fisheries policy, the Swedish environmental policy and Swedish fisheries policy all emphasize that ecosystem-based management should be implemented. Thus, there are needs for knowledge of the ecosystems which are exploited by humans. Fish populations are important components of aquatic ecosystems, and are affected by the surrounding environment, while they themselves affect the structures of the aquatic food-webs. Fishes often have regulatory functions in the ecosystems, and thereby contribute to valuable ecosystem services in addition to the more obvious services as providing food and recreation for humans. Mostly issues regarding the impacts of fishing-related activities on fish populations have been focused on commercial fishing. A widespread and intensive commercial fishing may lead to the depletion of stocks or, at worst, a collapse of the fish populations; the fish population reaching such low levels that recovery may be difficult. In recent years the knowledge of the impact of recreational fishing on aquatic systems has increased, but still the effects of recreational fishing on ecosystem are relatively poorly studied, compared to commercial fisheries. For many, it may be difficult to accept that recreational fishing may affect fish populations; each fisher/angler favour just their own fisheries without bearing in mind that although the small influence from each individual fisherman may be small, it will be significant when many fishermen harvest from the same stock. Recreational fishing and its effects on the aquatic ecosystems are often neglected in fisheries science, mainly due to the lack of data to estimate recreational fishing harvest with a sufficient resolution to calculate the effort and landings of recreational fisheries. In this report, we try to give an overall picture of the fish species needing increased knowledge in order to get an estimate of harvest in recreational fisheries and thereby the effect on fish populations. Furthermore, we also try to give a picture of international studies and finally to give examples of methods concerning how and to what extent one may conduct studies in Sweden. Our proposal is largely based on combining different surveys in specific areas that we believe can be used to scale-up the results. We suggest data collation of recreational fishing is concentrated to areas with public waters, because in other water bodies the land owner has sovereignty under the law. The focus areas we point out are those already having some data collection, both in terms of recreational fishing and environmental monitoring / stock assessment and where there are non-fishing protective areas nearby. Collection of data should not be made in all areas at every year; three areas are suggested to become intensive areas (data collection every year) and the remaining areas data collection will take place every three years - on a rolling schedule. The sampling methods we recommend are national survey (i.e. mail and telephone surveys), recording of catches in fishing tourism, voluntary catch registration of individual anglers, collection of data from fishing competitions, on-site inventory of fishing effort (e.g. count fetter and trailers), inventory of catch per effort (e.g. by creel-surveys) and fish tagging studies. For the west coast we propose one focus area, Älgöfjorden. At the coasts of Bohuslän County and the northern part of Halland County the fishing pressure is high for lobster and crab and therefore a focus area should be established in this area. We suggest that data are collected by on-site visits for inventorying fishing effort (counting numbers of pots / buoys / fishing people), combined with catch registration can return an estimates on catch per effort, and this can then be applied to a larger area. Another potential focus area is the area around Torhamn (Blekinge) which, for example, is popular area recreational fishing for pike. Torhamn is one of three national reference areas for coastal fish monitoring on the East Coast and has been monitored since 2002. It is also desirable to study aspects of fishing mortality in recreational fisheries. To our knowledge, there are no national studies that have explored the effects of catch-and-release in natural environments over long periods of time. The Bråviken Bay is a relatively limited and well-defined area having considered high recreational fishing pressure, but large time series from fish monitoring programmes are lacking. This site will give good opportunities for studying pike, pikeperch and to some extent also sea trout, data collection is suggested to take place every third year. An adjacent area is Kvädöfjärden having fish monitoring time series from 1989. Closely situated to Kvädöfjärden is Licknevarpefjärden where fishing has been prohibited since 1970. Additional areas that are of interest to follow up with some regularity are Asköfjärden, Gålö and / or Lagnö in the Stockholm archipelago. In the future it might be fruitful to shift data collection intensity between Torhamn in Blekinge and an area in Stockholm archipelago. Such decision should be based on factors like where the most practical solutions / contact network can be found. In the Gulf of Bothnia angling with nets, traps and similar gears are relatively widespread. We suggest that Långvind Bay in Gävleborg County, is an area for the study of recreational fishing in a relatively sparsely populated county and is most likely typical for large parts of the Gulf of Bothnia. Data collection is suggested to take place every year. As for the Gulf of Bothnia the recreational fishery in the Bothnian Bay are mainly targeting the whitefish, sea trout and, to some extent also perch. By monitoring the recreational fisheries in Kinnbäcksfjärden near Piteå, we hope to be able to describe the local recreational fishing patterns and then apply these values for catch per effort for most of the coastal strip of the Bothnian Bays. Recreational fishing is widespread in all of the five largest lakes in Sweden, and there is a need for data collection in all five. In Lake Vänern, Lake Vättern and Lake Mälaren there are fish monitoring data of good quality and regularity. However, in the two smallest lakes, Lake Hjälmaren and Lake Storsjön in Jämtland County, few test fishing areas and few studies regarding recreational fishing have been made. For Lake Vättern we suggest that data collection is done every year; especially the archipelago in the northern part of the lake will be an excellent area for the study of recreational fishing for pike. In the other four lakes we propose that data collection is made every third year. By studying recreational fishing - its practitioners, scope, gear-use, and harvest, it will be possible to achieve a more detailed view of how recreational fishing is done and how it varies along the Swedish coast and in the five largest lakes. Such knowledge is important for the managers of common fisheries resources and the monitoring of environmental status and evaluating the recreational goals established by the Swedish governments.


fritidsfiske; datainsamling; förvaltning

Published in

Aqua reports
2015, number: 2015:16
ISBN: 978-91-576-9350-1
Publisher: Department of Aquatic Resources, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Karlsson, Martin
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Ragnarsson Stabo, Henrik
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Carlstrand, Håkan
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management
Thörnqvist, Stig
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management

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