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Who travels how far: German Baltic sea anglers’ travel distances as precondition for fisheries management and coastal spatial planning

The marine recreational fishery (MRF) is a branch of coastal tourism with noticeable effects on fish stocks, coastal environments, and economies. Nevertheless, little research has been conducted on its spatio-temporal dimensions. This study extends the knowledge about marine angling tourism by investigating activity hot spots and travel distances of 8429 German Baltic Sea anglers using data obtained from an on-site survey which was conducted from 2015 to 2019. Fishing from shores, small boats, and charter vessels, the anglers targeted primarily Atlantic cod and to a lesser extent sea trout, salmon, and herring. Angling effort clustered along the coast primarily according to the available infrastructure and the spatial distribution of the target species. The medians of travel distances differed among the target species and decreased from salmon (261 km), cod (194 km), sea trout (63 km) to herring (44 km). The high percentage of non-resident anglers, most of whom travelled more than 200 km to the coast, suggested that particularly cod and salmonid anglers conducted multiple-day trips and contributed to local economies. The period 2016/17 was characterised by a severe decline of the western Baltic cod stock and the first-time implementation of harvest limitations. The number and travel distances of cod charter vessel anglers decreased after the implementation, whereas the numbers and travel distances of boat and shore anglers targeting cod remained constant despite overall decreasing catch rates. The delineation of areas where marine recreational fishing concentrates may help to define areas relevant for tourism development and destination branding and equally those that require a risk assessment to evaluate the potential extent and consequences of MRF on local environments. The travel distances underlined the heterogeneity of the MRF and may be used as tool to identify stakeholder groups, to estimate the species-specific attractiveness for resident and non-resident anglers, and to evaluate the outcome of management actions.

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