Practices and attitudes of Indian catch-and-release anglers: identifying opportunities for advancing the management of recreational fisheries

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Nishikant Gupta
Shannon D. Bower
Steven J. Cooke
Andy J. Danylchuk
Rajeev Raghavan


Recreational fishing, a popular leisure activity, can potentially support conservation of species and provide socio-economic benefits to local economies.  Nonetheless, there are ecological concerns regarding this pastime, especially in developing economies such as India where little information is available concerning impacts on fish populations.  An online survey targeting recreational anglers practicing catch-and-release (C&R) in India (n=200) revealed 25 states/union territories as prime angling locations, with Mahseer (Tor spp.) constituting the main target species group (53%).  Angling season (28%) and pristine river surroundings (14%) were stated as major factors important for angling, while overfishing (31%) and the use of illegal fishing techniques were highlighted as chief threats to fish species.  Respondents were in favour of strictly adhering to C&R guidelines (23%), controlling illegal fishing techniques and pollution (18%) and spreading awareness and education among local stakeholders (18%) to protect fish.  Over 75% of respondents were also willing to contribute both their time and money to conservation initiatives focusing on key sport fish.  With anglers targeting multiple fishing locations throughout India, there is a need for consistent governance structures and policy instruments to support the development of sustainable recreational fisheries while minimising conflict with other stakeholder groups.  The impacts of C&R fisheries interactions on individuals and populations (especially for threatened species) need to be studied in the Indian context.  Direct participation by recreational anglers in C&R research could strengthen broader conservation and management initiatives throughout the country by increasing stewardship. 


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Author Biographies

Nishikant Gupta, Department of Geography, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom

Nishikant Gupta’s research involves investigating novel strategies for protecting and conserving the Indian Rivers from anthropogenic stressors and changing climatic variables. He is particularly interested in the mahseer fish species, especially the golden (Tor putitora) and the red-finned (Tor tor) mahseer found in the Indian Himalayan water bodies. 


Shannon D. Bower, Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa K1S 5B6, ON, Canada

Shannon Bower is a PhD candidate in the Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Her research interests include inland fisheries and aquatic conservation. Her current project focuses on developing rapid assessment tools for determining the long term viability of catch and release fisheries from biological, social, and economic perspectives.


Steven J. Cooke, Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa K1S 5B6, ON, Canada

Steven J. Cooke is a Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor at Carleton University where he studies the ecology, physiology, and behaviour of wild fish. Much of his work is focused on recreational fisheries and the sustainable management of inland waters.


Andy J. Danylchuk, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst MA 01003, MA, USA

Andy J. Danylchuk is an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Spanning both marine and freshwater systems, his work combines life history theory, population dynamics, and physiology to understanding how fish are impacted by natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Over the past 15 years his work has focused on developing best practices for catch-and-release recreational fisheries.


Rajeev Raghavan, Department of Fisheries Resource Management, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Kochi, Kerala 682506, India Laboratory of Systematics, Conservation and Ecology, Zoo Outreach Organization (ZOO), 96, Kumudham Nagar, Villankurichi Road, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641035, India Mahseer Trust, The Freshwater Biological Association, East Stoke River Laboratory, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6BB, United Kingdom

Rajeev Raghavan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Fisheries Resource Management, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Kochi, and the South Asia Chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Fish Specialist Group. His research focuses on generating information and developing methods to support conservation decision-making in tropical freshwater ecosystems, with a special reference to the Western Ghats Hotspot.


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