How far would you go to fish? A look at the German Baltic Sea anglers

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15 Sep

It is no secret that anglers are dedicated to their passion. They are able and happy to travel far and beyond to quench their passion for fishing and nature. Some of them are even ready to travel thousands of kilometres for rare fish species. But this phenomenon remains mainly an assumption, which was not – until now – supported by hard data and facts.

This was recently corrected by a study of the Thünen Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries, which looked precisely at the German Baltic Sea anglers’ travel distances as a precondition for fisheries management and coastal spatial planning. While it did not analyse the behaviour of the numerous overseas anglers who enjoy the fresh air from Kiel to the island of Rügen, the research has an in-depth look at the German anglers.

Interestingly enough, only 4% of the surveyed anglers travelled five or less kilometres to their angling locations, while 64% travelled more than 100 km. On average, anglers travel 214 km, with ranges from 0.4 km to more than 980 km. This clearly indicates that the German Baltic Sea coast continuously attracts anglers from all over Germany.

By looking at a wide array of factors, the researchers believed that the travel distances were partly influenced by fisheries management and that “managers should consider the importance of different fisheries for attracting resident and non-resident anglers when planning stakeholder participation and evaluating or predicting the outcome of management actions.” The researchers also underlined that looking at the areas visited the most by anglers could help managers better understand where the needs are in terms of tourism development, but also how those anglers’ concentrations could have an impact on the local environment.

The researchers concluded that further research should be done, notably on the economic impact of marine recreational fishing on those coastal communities. An angler that travels more than 980 km to fish will spend multiple days on-site: how much anglers can spend when travelling and where they are spending their money should also be looked at. Those multiple-days trips, mostly by anglers fishing cod and salmon, support the coastal communities’ local economies in many ways. The European Anglers Alliance remains convinced that this phenomenon should be studied in more details and more widely to better inform decision-making at the regional, national and European levels, to become an integral part of the European Blue Economy Strategy.

Last summer, the European Parliament Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment organised an event on angling’s contribution to the recovery of the EU tourism sector and the necessity to fully include the recreational fishing sector in the EU Blue Economy Strategy. The event showed the potential of angling tourism and some of its key characteristics. Some rural, coastal or remote areas are relying on that kind of tourism, which is the main source of income for the local population. Anglers also stretch the travel season, starting earlier and ending later than the usual touristic season. The panellists also discussed how the sector is compatible with the blue objectives of the European Green Deal, as recreational angling is a highly selective form of fishing.
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