Although most anglers are keen to preserve fish stocks the majority do not support licensing recreational fishing. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Although most anglers are keen to preserve fish stocks the majority do not support licensing recreational fishing. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 22: Recreational fishing should remain unlicensed.

That is the message from the majority of shoreline fishers as well as boat fishers in a new study of the island’s fishing habits.

The 2011 Survey of Recreational Fishing Activity in Bermuda was conducted to gauge attitudes towards recording catches and find out whether a licensing system to help manage fish stocks would be accepted.

Initial findings show 60 per cent of shoreline fishers were against licensing recreational fishing. Only 20 per cent of them supported the idea.

Meanwhile 54 per cent of people who fished from their boats were opposed to licensing recreational fishing. Only 27 per cent of their number supported a licensing system.

The study comes more than six years after a Government White Paper recommended recreational fishing should be licensed, but was never acted upon.

Joanna Pitt, marine resources officer, told the Sun: “Those original discussions took place over 10 years ago now, and we realise that circumstances in our community have changed.

“The survey has shown that there is little public support for the licensing of fishing activities, although some concessions might make licensing more acceptable, but that a greater proportion of people would be willing to at least record details of their fishing activity on a voluntary basis to assist with management of local fish stocks. We now have to conduct further analyses to determine what approach will work best to generate the information that our department needs without unduly impacting on this important form of recreation that so many people enjoy.”

The 2011 survey also reveals that the annual recreational fishing catch by shoreline fishers and boat fishers amounts to more than half of the commercial catch.

In 2010 the commercial catch weighed a total of 771,000lbs.

Ms Pitt said: “Combining the extrapolated numbers from both boat and shoreline fishing gives potential landings of 482,500lbs, equivalent to about 63 per cent by weight of the landings from the commercial fishery.

“The presentation of these numbers to the public is not meant to be alarmist but, rather, to give a sense of scale regarding the extent of recreational fishing activities and the Department’s need to gather data on what is being caught.

“Completed surveys are still trickling in, so the final numbers will be slightly different. If anyone has received a survey and not yet returned it, we would still welcome any additional input.

Any completed surveys received by the end of the month will be incorporated.”