Catch-and-release science and its application to conservation and management of recreational fisheries

Catch‐and‐release angling is a well‐established practice in recreational angler behaviour and fisheries management. Accompanying this is a growing body of catch‐and‐release research that can be applied to reduce injury, mortality and sublethal alterations in behaviour and physiology. Here, the status of catch‐and‐release research from a symposium on the topic is summarised. Several general themes emerged including the need to: (1) better connect sublethal assessments to population‐level processes; (2) enhance understanding of the variation in fish, fishing practices and gear and their role in catch and release; (3) better understand animal welfare issues related to catch and release; (4) increase the exchange of information on fishing‐induced stress, injury and mortality between the recreational and commercial fishing sectors; and (5) improve procedures for measuring and understanding the effect of catch‐and‐release angling. Through design of better catch‐and‐release studies, strategies could be developed to further minimise stress, injury and mortality arising from catch‐and‐release angling. These strategies, when integrated with other fish population and fishery characteristics, can be used by anglers and managers to sustain or enhance recreational fishing resources.