Background. Several studies have highlighted the negative potential of recreational boat fishing to put pressure on coastal fish species and in particular on those that are vulnerable. We focused on this problem launching the first such survey in the area on this type of fishery in the Azorean region. We were trying to assess the catch, harvest, and effort, to investigate spatial and temporal variability, compared with commercial artisanal harvesting, and to evaluate ecological implications of this activity. Materials and Methods. Recreational boat fishing was surveyed at the islands of Faial and Pico during 2004 and 2005 to assess the level of pressure on fish communities. Eighty-seven anglers representing 46 boats were interviewed. The questionnaires covered fishing data (fishing technique, gear, fishing effort, and spatial distribution), socio-economic information, and biological sampling (species identification and measurements). Results. The anglers from the recreational boats surveyed employed four different fishing techniques, however, the demersal fishing was undoubtedly the most common (87.5%). The activity took place around the islands with no activity at neighbouring offshore fishing grounds. A total of 32 fish species were identified in the demersal fishing catch. The estimated catches reached 163 t per year (39.7% of the commercial artisanal captures). The weighted mean trophic level and vulnerability index values from the demersal fishing catch corresponded to 3.8 and 45.3, respectively. Conclusion. The impact of the demersal recreational fishing on the fish communities of the shelf and upper slope of the islands studied is substantial, affecting a number vulnerable fish species (e.g., Epinephelus marginatus, Polyprion americanus, and Scorpaena scrofa). The recreational fisheries in the area is also a major competitor for the same resources as the commercial artisanal fishermen, since 75% of the species composition captured by recreational boat anglers is simultaneously landed by commercial artisanal fisheries. A monitoring program covering the recreational fisheries is urgently needed to improve the current management strategy in the coastal areas of the Azorean Archipelago.
Afonso P., Fontes J., Holland K.N., Santos R.S. 2009. Multiscale patterns of habitat use in a highly mobile reef fish, the white trevally Pseudocaranx dentex, and their implications for marine reserve design. Marine Ecology Progress Series 381: 273–286. DOI: 10.3354/meps07946
Anonymous 2011a. Censos 2011. [Census 2011.] Serviços Regionais de Estatística Açorianos, Instituto Nacional de Estatística. [Regional Azorean Statistics Services, National Institute of Statistics] www.srea.ine.pt, version (01/2013) [In Portuguese.]
Anonymous 2011b. Pescado Descarregado na R.A.A. [Fish landed on Azorean Autonomous Region.] Lotaçor S.A. http://www.lotacor.pt/PescadoDescarregadoAuth/gratis.php [In Portuguese.]
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