What determines the behavioral intention of local-level fisheries managers to alter fish stocking practices in freshwater recreational fisheries of two European countries?
Angling clubs in central Europe regularly use fish stocking to maintain or enhance stocks. Our objective was to understand the behavioral intention of club decision makers to alter stocking practices. To that end, we conducted a survey among a random sample of fisheries managers in angling clubs in Germany (n= 1222) and France (n=587). We report four key findings. First, the intention to decrease stocking was better predicted than the intention to increase stocking, suggesting that the decision to increase stocking is under less psychological control. Second, differing psychological constructs predicted the intentions to alter three distinct stocking practices (stocking amount in general, stocking of fry and juvenile fish, stocking of harvestable fishes), indicating that no universal set of psychological predictors for stocking decision making exists. Third, the perception of the socio-economic situation of the club and of the status of the club’s waters had consistent explanatory significance, while the predictive power of basic sociopsychological characteristics related to stocking (attitude, norms etc.) was low. However, the clubs’ past stocking measures (club typology) moderated the impact of the attitude, norms and beliefs, thereby revealing that the effect of the psychological disposition of the decision maker on intended future stocking behavior depended on the club’s ecological and social context. Similarly and finally, beliefs about stocking-related ecological and genetic risks did not exert strong influence on the intention to alter stocking practices, but their explanatory power increased when the club typology was taken into account. We conclude (i) that contextual (social and ecological) factors, not psychological dispositions per se, inform stocking intentions and (ii) that intended stocking regime alterations depend on the interaction of the psychological disposition with the contextual frame within which stocking decisions are made.
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