Technology is increasingly driving the development of new products. Everything from drones to electric reels, from battery powered lures to rod sensors and fish-finding equipment are helping anglers catch fish.
But is this rapid advance good for the sport or even for the fish themselves? Not according to the university professors behind a new study that investigates the relationship between fishing technology and fish ecosystems.
Steven Cooke, Professor of Fish Ecology at Carleton University’s Department of Biology and the study’s lead author, says: “From improvements in finding and catching fish, to emulating their natural prey and accessing previously inaccessible waters, to anglers sharing their exploits with others, technology is completely changing all aspects of recreational fishing.”
One of the paper’s co-authors is Andy Danylchuk, Professor of Fish Conservation at the University of Massachusetts’ Department of Environmental Conservation. “There are still many unknowns,” says Danylchuk, who believes advancing technology is creating challenges for fisheries management and policy makers. “If science can’t keep up in terms of evaluating the impacts of technological innovation to help inform management and policy makers, it could be really detrimental to the fish, which may ultimately mean fewer fish and a worse fishing experience for anglers.”
Social media is also seen as a factor, helping identify fishing hotspots and attracting the growing hordes of anglers attracted to the sport during the COVID pandemic. Armed with increasingly effective underwater cameras, anglers are able to identify where fish are congregated and when they approach the bait.
The report concludes that fisheries research and management groups need to be more aware of the impact of high-tech fishing products. “An important message here is that resource management agencies need to share their experiences and that scientists should more intensively study the impact of innovations in recreational fishing,” write the study’s authors.