[OPEN ACCESS] Recreational fisheries in the UK: natural capital, ecosystem services, threats, and management

Fish Sci (2016) 82:203-212
DOI 10.1007/s12562-016-0967-y


Ian J. Winfield


The island nature of the UK has led to its long history of commercial marine fisheries, with associated recreational fisheries along and near to its extensive shoreline. In addition, an abundance of fresh waters provides extensive recreational fisheries, but few commercial fisheries, on rivers and lakes where catch-and-release is prevalent. Here, an overview is presented of these fisheries by describing their main features using the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services and then considering the threats that they face and the management that has been developed in response. In the marine environment, a wide range of fish species is targeted, but the Orders Gadiformes, Perciformes, and Pleuronectiformes are particularly important. Far fewer species are available for exploitation in fresh waters, but the Orders Cypriniformes, Perciformes, and Salmoniformes are fished extensively. In total, the UK has in excess of three million recreational anglers in a population of approximately 65 million people. Threats to UK recreational fisheries include overfishing, physical habitat modification, acidification, chemical pollution, eutrophication, endocrine disrupters, nanoparticles, species introductions, and climate change. Great scientific and management advances have been made such that most of the required aquatic biological management activities are now based on mature science and are in many cases now largely operational matters. In addition, the work of the UK statutory bodies for fisheries is increasingly supplemented by the efforts of more independent groups, including through citizen science. Ecosystem-based management is now commonplace and activities have expanded above and away from the water to include the management of anglers and other members of society. The UK’s recreational fisheries continue to face substantial challenges, but there are also substantial grounds for great optimism for their future.

This article publication was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) in a Grant-in-Aid for Publication of Scientific Research Results (KAKENHI 262003).


Angling · Ecosystem services · England · Environmental threats · Fisheries management · Fishing · Great Britain · Natural capital · Northern Ireland · Scotland · Wales 

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