There is growing interest in educating anglers on catch-and-release (C&R) best practices, yet there is little information on whether angler education programs yield measurable improvements in fish condition and survival. As such, we conducted a study focused on mixed-gender youth groups (aged 8-10) and contrasted three levels of training intervention. Treatment 1 training had no mention of C&R best practices. Treatments 2 and 3 trainings involved visual aids to illustrate best practices, while Treatment 3 added a hands-on demonstration. When caught by the most highly trained participants, fish experienced the least amount of air exposure, but were handled for longer periods, as trained anglers were more careful. Higher levels of training led to a higher likelihood that anglers wet their hands and used a bucket filled with water while handling fish but all treatment groups yielded similar incidences of deep hooking and bleeding. Overall, mortality (initial and after ∼12 h) was low across all treatments. Our findings suggest that a short (∼20 min) fishing workshop can transfer information on C&R practices, at least in the short-term, that can lead to some improved conditions for angler-caught fish. It is unclear the extent to which this information is retained in the long-term or how different target populations or training strategies might influence knowledge transfer and adoption and thus biological outcomes. With growing interest in sharing C&R best practices with anglers, we suggest that there is need for additional research on outreach strategies to ensure that such efforts are effective and yield meaningful benefits to fish welfare and conservation.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Angler education program, Catch-and-release practices, Environmental education and outreach, Fish injury and stress, Knowledge transfer, Recreational fisheries
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2016029
Journal Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems
Citation
Delle Palme, C.A. (Caleigh A.), Nguyen, V.M. (Vivian M.), Gutowsky, L.F.G. (Lee F.G.), & Cooke, S.J. (2016). Do fishing education programs effectively transfer 'catch-and-release' best practices to youth anglers yielding measurable improvements in fish condition and survival?. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems, (417). doi:10.1051/kmae/2016029