Article – Harvest portfolio diversification and emergent conservation challenges in an Alaskan recreational fishery

Beaudreau, A. H., Chan, M. N., & Loring, P. A. (2018). Harvest portfolio diversification and emergent conservation challenges in an Alaskan recreational fishery. Biological Conservation, 222, 268–277.
Diversification of harvest portfolios can benefit resource users by providing increased flexibility to respond to regulatory, economic, and environmental pressures. These adaptations, while important for maintaining harvesting opportunities, can lead to conservation challenges by shifting effort to other species or habitats. Using semi-structured interviews with charter fishing captains (N = 52) and logbook data, we examined shifts in the diversity of target species portfolios in a major recreational fishery in Alaska over three decades. To understand the role of regulation in affecting what species charter captains choose to target, we contrasted harvest portfolios in communities from two regions with differing histories of regulation. Portfolio structure was dynamic, with the majority of respondents reporting changes in the number of harvested species, relative preference for different species, or both since the 1990s. Diversification emerged primarily as a result of increased retention of historically less-preferred species, such as rockfishes, sablefish, and Pacific cod. Patterns of rockfish retention in charter logbook data mirrored patterns in targeting reported by respondents. Southeast Alaska captains largely attributed portfolio diversification and shifts in species preferences to greater restrictions on harvest of a primary target species (Pacific halibut), while Southcentral Alaska captains identified shifting customer interests and declines in some target species as driving changes. Our findings suggest that avoiding unintended conservation impacts of single-species regulations requires broader recognition of the multispecies nature of recreational fishing in management. Understanding fisher behaviors, values, and motivations is essential, so that managers may better anticipate the responses of fishers to new regulations.

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