Responsible Recreational Fishing

Responsible Recreational Fishing

Experts agree on the first international guidelines on responsible recreational fisheries.

An International Expert Consultation convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agreed today on the first international guidelines on responsible recreational fisheries. The Technical Guidelines, which will be brought to the attention of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI), support sustainable recreational fisheries in context of the FAO Code of Conduct of Responsible Fisheries and were prepared following calls from FAO member states for guidance on recreational fisheries as a rapidly rising form of use of wild fish populations.


"The Sportfishing Conservancy has helped lead the way for responsible recreational fishing through our "Blue Footprint" programs like our "Rec-Tech" environmentally friendly fishing techniques, our "Toss-Back Tuesdays" and "Toss-Back Tools," said Tom Raftican, president of The Sportfishing Conservancy. "Clearly we are not alone at taking the high road when asking anglers to step up to better conservation and it is an honor to further work on guidelines with the international experts assembled by the United Nations," he added.


Developed through a consultative process, these guidelines translate the relevant provisions of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries into specific advice for sustainable recreational fisheries and are directed at fisheries policy-makers and managers, other decision makers, NGOs, recreational fishers and other stakeholders.

The guidelines cover all types of recreational fisheries (harvest-oriented angling, total catch-and-release fishing) in all environments (marine, coastal and inland) and are global in scope. They highlight ways towards achieving sustainable fisheries using a range of tools and approaches in managing recreational fisheries. Aquatic stewardship is the overarching concept required; other management approaches referred include the ecosystem approach, the precautionary approach and adaptive management.

The guidelines acknowledge and specifically emphasize the immense benefits of recreational fisheries and the important contribution of recreational fishers to maintaining aquatic biodiversity and conserving endangered species, their habitats and aquatic ecosystems in general. While the interests of recreational fisheries should be considered in all decisions affecting aquatic ecosystems, potential impacts of recreational fisheries on aquatic ecosystems must also be addressed. The guidelines look at real or likely damage induced by non- or badly managed recreational fisheries to fish stocks, biodiversity and the aquatic environment.

"The Sportfishing Conservancy will continue to work with the scientific and administrative communities to help tailor guidelines that work with our domestic fisheries," said Raftican.  "The United Nations and FAO involvement supports the efforts of US anglers who believe that the light touch of recreational fishing provides opportunity both today and for tomorrow," he added.

The Expert Consultation, composed of 20 experts from academia, policy and NGOs, was hosted by the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries 5-6 August 2011 after the Sixth World Recreational Fishing Conference (Humboldt-University of Berlin) August 1-4 2011. The Technical Guidelines will be published by FAO and available online.  Contact The Sportfishing Conservancy at



Department of Fish & wildlife