Fisherman hand holding pike with bait.

Project: Catch-and-release fishing - an invisible threat to aquatic ecosystems?

Our aim for this project is to provide novel insights regarding long-term effects of catch-and-release fishing on reproductive success.

Facts about the project

Project manager
Petter Tibblin
Other project members
Henrik Flink, Per Larsson, Oscar Nordahl, Markus Hall, Kristoffer Bergström, Linnaeus University, Juha Meriä, University of Helsinki, Erik Petersson, Department of Aquatic Resources (SLU Aqua), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala University and University of Helsinki.
Formas research council (Formas' annual open call 2018)
Göte Borgströms Stiftelse för Fiske- och Vattenvård.
June 1, 2019 - May 30, 2023
Aquatic ecology(Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)
Research group
Fish Ecology

More about the project

To manage the negative effects of the increasing sector of recreational fisheries on fish populations across the globe, there is a growing trend towards catch-and-release (CAR) practice where captured fish are unhooked and released back to the water. The success of CAR as a management and conservation strategy has so far been judged upon generally low rates of mortality, suggesting CAR as a highly sustainable method rendering other regulations of recreational fisheries redundant. However, recent findings suggest that intense CAR fishing, despite low direct mortality, may impact the dynamics, viability and productivity of fish populations negatively, but underlying mechanisms remain unknown.

CAR may potentially influence ecological and evolutionary processes through life-history traits and long-term behavioural alterations but these issues have rarely been investigated. The purpose of this research project is to examine the effects of CAR on traits such as long-term growth, reproductive success and migratory behaviour. We make this possible by combining a series of field- and laboratory experiments with state-of-the-art molecular methods using popular target species in recreational fishing, such as northern pike, Atlantic salmon and brown trout, as our model species.

The results will contribute to novel insights about the effects of CAR on fish and advance our understanding regarding implementations of CAR in fisheries management and conservation. This will ultimately contribute to biological and socioeconomically sustainability of recreational fisheries.

The project is part of the research in the research group Fish Ecology and in Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems (EEMiS).