Angling tourism

Recreational fishing is a leisure activity. When commercial fisheries catch fish for selling it, recreational fishermen catch and either release it or eat it within the family or network of friends. 

Angling (this is, recreational fishing with rod and line) constitutes a high-value and sustainable touristic activity in coastal regions that contributes to the diversification of the income of the coastal communities. Angling tourists are either anglers travelling with the main or sole purpose of going angling, or a tourist or a person on a trip spending some time on angling but not as the main purpose for the stay. Anglers spend money locally on, for example, tackle, hotel, restaurant, boat and equipment rentals, charter boats and fishing guides and more. Angling tourism also provides non-marketed social benefits to the anglers like relaxation, exercise and experience of nature. 

When a dedicated angler plans his/her vacation, the fishing possibilities often will be a decisive factor for his/her choice of destination. Often a whole family’s vacation destination will be decided by fishing opportunities if just one member of the family is a dedicated angler. In that case destinations, which can offer good fishing and other interesting experiences for the non-fishing members of the family will be preferred. 

Recreational angling tourism has a big development potential in most countries either as an add-on to existing tourism products or on its own. 

Fisheries-related tourism can be split into two main components: 

1) – Commercial fishing related tourism, and 

2) – recreational fishing related tourism, 

Commercial fishing related tourism is also named “pesca-tourism” in some regions. The term “pesca-tourism” is not consistently defined across Europe but can be said to cover: “activities conducted by commercial fishermen using their own fishing vessels.” Tourists are paying for a trip on the fishing vessel to see and/or take part in its fishing activities with various kinds of fishing gear (nets, lines..). The catch may be sold by the vessel owner. 

Recreational fishing related tourism can be sub-divided in many ways but for clarity we suggest these two categories: 

a) Recreational tourism fishing from a boat (charter boat or hired boat), and 

b) non-boat marine and freshwater recreational tourism fishing 

-Charter boat fishing (angling): 

The fishing boat used for this purpose can be a commercial fishing vessel - used for this business part time and commercial fishing the rest of the time – or a full time charter boat. The skipper takes on board anglers (rod and line fishers) against payment. The catch is the anglers’ catch and cannot be sold. 

-Hired boat fishing: A small boat rented by one or more anglers. No skipper is needed. The angler(s) sail the boat. 

Charter boat angling and angling from hired boats can take place in both marine and freshwaters. 

Non-boat recreational angling tourism can take place anywhere where fish are available: At sea from the beaches, cliffs or piers; in rivers and lakes and dedicated fishing ponds. 


by ECORYS for the European Commission's Directorate General for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries 
Rotterdam/Brussels, 15 September 2013

- “.., low-profile tourism is not a recognised business model, but it is well-known as previous and early forms of nature and eco-tourism, e.g. tourism forms with a low density character, a low average impact on the environment and an interest in natural areas as destinations. This type of tourism has been developing in the past decade as a result of the environmental movement of the ‘70s and ‘80s, increasingly being “[…] hailed as a panacea: a way to fund conservation and scientific research, protect fragile and pristine ecosystem, benefit rural communities, promote development, enhance ecological and cultural sensitivity […]” (Honey, 1999, p. 4). Examples of this business model are nature camping, scouting and youth camps, small-scale boating and recreational fishing, etc.”

- “Also nautical tourism segments are growing rapidly, with for instance a worldwide 500,000 additional surfers every year, and a growth of the luxury yacht building segment by some 228% between 1998 and 2008.
A more stable trend is seen in recreational fishing, which appears to be fairly resilient to pressure from the present global economic crises. When the economy weakens people tend to seek nearby and cheap outdoor pleasures like recreational angling.”

- “A growing niche of potential development for coastal and maritime destination across the EU are nautical sports, and particularly those (e.g. diving, surfing, or recreational fishing) which can trigger local employment and economic growth, whilst avoiding excessive negative externalities for local communities and natural resources.”

- “Recreational fishing covers various segments. In most countries recreational angling (rod and line fishing) is the biggest of these segments measured in numbers of participants and/or economic benefits and jobs. In Europe there are some 8-10 million recreational sea anglers. The annual socio-economic value is estimated 8-10 billion euros with thousands of jobs depending on anglers’ expenditure. Recreational angling (rod and line) is done for leisure and sport. In some countries angling tourism is a well-developed and growing business segment, while others have an unused potential. For example angling has been reported to show a remarkable resistance against pressure from the present global economic crisis. A weakening economy leads people to seek nearby and cheap outdoor pleasures like recreational angling.”

Importance of Angling Tourism – some examples

“[…] Angling is an important sector for Irish tourism, with the potential to provide for economic growth especially in rural and coastal areas and to provide overseas and indigenous anglers with a deep and enriching experience. Expenditure by overseas anglers in Ireland is estimated at €66m, with an average spend per angler well above that of general visitors.” (2009)
In 2014, the total angling tourism expenditure in Ireland amounted 315 million EUR and sustained 3235 jobs.

Flanders (Belgium)
51% of the Flemish anglers say they travel once a year for a fishing trip.

Average spend on angling per person: 4,000 DKR (536 €)
Angling tourists: 3,1 mill overnight stays in 2008
Jobs: ca. 2,500 of which 535 are tourism related
"In economic terms the Danish recreational angling sector is of almost the same size as the Danish golf sector"
“The recreational Anglers’ contribution to Danish economy” (March 2010)

The Spanish Minister in charge of Fisheries says in its report on the Mediterranean Fisheries: “"Spending generated by recreational fishing in the Spanish Mediterranean significantly exceeds the added value generated by commercial fishing. Sport fishing represents between 550 and 650 million € per year compared to the 380 million € generated by commercial fishing. This is evident, especially in the Autonomy of the Balearic Islands and in the provinces of Barcelona and Malaga, where more and less seasonal tourism concentration is given ".

Examples of angling tourism projects 

The example of the “Fishing Zealand” project in Denmark clearly shows how sustainable sport fishing tourism can make a positive contribution to growth in local businesses but also to the environment.
The Denmark’s Sport Fishing Association and various municipalities and islands in the Zealand region worked together with local businesses, tourism organisations and volunteer sport fishermen to develop a new touristic product by improving the possibilities for fishing in the region as a whole.
A report published in 2010 by the Danish Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fishing on the socio-economic significance of sport fishing in Denmark emphasized how valuable sport fishermen are to the economy. When the consumption of Danish sport fishermen is combined with that of foreign sport fishermen, the result is 2.9 billion Danish Crowns (almost 390 million EUR).
The “Fishing Zealand” project is currently organised with a political supervisory group and a project group. Both groups comprise members who represent the various partners. The goal is to include all municipalities of the region.
For more information about this projects, visit “Fishing Zealand”’s website:

Examples of angling tourism funded by FARNET
EMF money has been used to develop some angling-related touristic projects for the diversification of the communities that rely on fisheries or aquaculture. 
Some examples of projects funded by FARNET: 

  • "Put’n’Take": a recreational fishery
This “put and take” fishery offers an easy way for families and friends to experience Danish sea fishing in a safe and accessible environment where, in addition, the catch is guaranteed. This innovative activity has improved the area’s tourist offers while creating a new market for local fish via a unique collaboration between a local aquarium, a fishmonger and local fishermen.

  • Carp tourism: guided tours by carp experts
The Aischgrund Carp Region in Germany used Axis 4 to bring together around 1 000 carp producers in a concerted effort to develop and promote carp tourism in the area. An info point was set up, packages of activities organised and 50 “carp guides” trained

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