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There is continual pressure from parts of the recreational sector to close commercial fisheries. This pressure is based on the belief that recreational fisheries are inherently more environmentally benign and ‘worth’ more than commercial fisheries, and that recreational fishing benefits are maximised with sole access to fisheries resources. This pressure obscures the question of whether recreational fisheries are sustainable, and whether the structures and processes are in place to ensure continual improvement in environmental performance of this sector. In this paper, we briefly review information on the environmental and economic impacts of commercial and recreational fisheries. We conclude that recreational fishing lobbyists underestimate the environmental impacts of recreational fishing, and that most economic studies purporting that significant economic benefit will accrue from allocating sole access to the recreational fishing sector are based on incorrect notions of economic valuation. We demonstrate that the solution to putting recreational fishing on the path to sustainability is not through attempting to take fisheries resources from another sector, but is through the recreational fishing sector adopting Environmental Management Systems (EMS) to continually improve environmental performance. We present briefly the appropriate economic method for valuing commercial and recreational fisheries for the purposes of resource allocation.


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