No fear of bankruptcy: the innate self-subsidizing forces in recreational fishing

Recreational fishing, by both local residents and tourists, is a popular activity globally. The behaviour and motivation of recreational fishers is different from those of commercial fishers. Unlike the latter, the former are not dependent on making profits to continue fishing. Rather, the value of recreational fishing to those who engage in it is a combination of catches and experience values. The latter value implies that recreational fishers might continue fishing when they should not, analogous to the effect of subsidy in the commercial fishing sector. Hence, the term “self-subsidizing”: a fishery as one in which fishers subsidize themselves through an economic investment in gear and time from their non-fishery-based earnings. The consequence of which is that recreational fishers can continue fishing long after the commercial fishing industry has stopped fishing because their operations have become economically unviable. There is reason to argue that in many areas, recreational fishing effort, due to the self-subsidizing mechanism, is sustained at a high rate while stocks decrease. In this contribution, we describe the innate self-subsidizing forces in recreational fishing and discuss their implications.