One of the most important factors in promoting angling-based tourism in rural areas is balancing the desire for increased visitor numbers and associated economic growth with the potential social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts related to tourism development. This is a particular concern in rural areas where wild fish stocks may be more sensitive to increased angling pressure than commercial or stocked fisheries.
There are two related issues at stake:
• Whether developing angling tourism in rural areas creates too much ‘angling pressure’ and damages sensitive fish stocks or the environment.
• What impact angling tourism has on the visiting angler experience, either through exceeding social carrying capacity or ‘over development’.
Increasingly, rural industries have to operate within parameters that conserve the special qualities of rural areas – and angling is no different. Angling tourism needs to function within the broader context of ‘ecotourism’, defined as supporting environmental, economic and social/cultural sustainability, if it is to be considered a viable component of rural development.
Our research has highlighted some common dilemmas: i) The need to implement sustainable management systems to protect fragile areas; ii) The need to mediate between the at times different aims of conservation, preservation and local development; iii) The need to encourage balanced, broad-based but community-focused economic growth.