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Catch & Release Fishing

catch and release
catch and release
catch and release
Photographs courtesy of Sergey Prusov, Environment Agency and Guy Mawle.

The practice of catch and release in rod fisheries has become increasingly common as a salmon management/conservation measure in light of the widespread decline in salmon abundance in the North Atlantic. In some areas of Canada and USA, catch and release has been practised since 1984, and in more recent years it has also been widely used in many European countries both as a result of statutory regulation and through voluntary practice. In 2014, more than 122,000 Atlantic salmon were released following capture, but this information is not complete. There is evidence from some countries that larger MSW fish are released in higher proportions than smaller fish.

Year
Canada

Denmark -
Faroe Islands
& Greenland

European
Union
Iceland
Norway
Russian
Federation
USA
Total
2000
62,106
0
27,346
2,918
0
12,624
0
104,994
2001
58,961
0
33,504
3,607
0
16,410
0
112,482
2002
54,425
0
32,984
5,576
0
25,248
0
118,233
2003
51,442
0
34,968
5,357
0
33,862
0
125,629
2004
57,005
0
55,064
7,294
0
24,679
0
144,042
2005
45,886
0
60,145
9,150
0
23,592
0
138,773
2006
49,279
0
62,812
8,261
0
33,380
424
154,156
2007
42,820
0
82,977
6,175
0
44,341
-
176,313
2008
58,000
0
81,301
15,400
5,512
41,881
61
202,155
2009
47,892
0
71,133
-
6,696
-
-
125,721
2010
58,300
0
115,065
-
15,041
14,585
-
202,991
2011
77,641
0
99,086
-
14,303

-

-
191,030
2012
50,811
0
97,499
-
18,611
4,743
-
171,664
2013
59,207
0
74,445
-
15,912
3,732
-
153,296
2014
39,534
0
53,985
-
20,229
8,479
-
122,227

Since 2009, there has been no obligations to report caught-and-released fish in Russia and records for 2010 are incomplete. Catch and release catches have typically been high in Russia (average of 36,500 salmon in the 5 years 2004 to 2008) and are believed to have remained at this level. Not all EU Member States provided complete information.

ICES considers that catch and release recreational fisheries provide an intermediate management strategy between a full retention fishery and fishery closure for populations that are below target levels. Mortality of Atlantic salmon after catch and release has been reported to be highly variable (estimates range from 0 - 80% but has been found to be low in many studies). Catch and release angling at low temperatures (below 17–18°C) generally shows lower post-release mortalities than at higher temperatures. There is, however, a lack of studies on the survival after catch and release at higher temperatures from release until spawning and there are no studies on its relationship with survival to repeat spawning. Most of the studies that report mortality rates after catch and release have used skilled anglers or artificially hooked already captive fish. This may lead to lower mortality than would be expected if less experienced anglers caught fish.

Studies have shown that less than 25% of fish that had been marked upon release after capture by rod and line were caught a second time, and an even lower proportion was caught a third time. Read more...

Efforts have been made in a number of countries to inform anglers about good catch and release practice e.g. through free instruction videos and advisory leaflets. NASCO has developed guidelines on catch and release (available in both English and French).