Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Emily Diamond


Fisheries management in the United States is widely lauded for its effectiveness at maintaining healthy stock sizes and for actively rebuilding overfished stocks. While the activities of commercial fishers are more commonly thought of as the main target of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, managing the actions of recreational fishers is no less important and is also designated as one of the statute’s primary responsibilities. Managing recreational fishers, especially within the growing ecosystem-based fisheries management movement, relies heavily on assumptions of compliance with regulations. As such it is crucial to understand whether ethical fishing attitudes and behaviors exist among fishers in practice. This mixed methods study was designed to assess Rhode Island recreational anglers’ conservation ethic, perceptions of fishing impact, and fishing behaviors, as well as the strength of their coastal identities. Analyses were performed to examine the links among these components in order to recommend communication strategies for fisheries managers. The results show that the sample population demonstrated strong ethic and coastal identity, which were positively correlated with each other. Furthermore, anglers’ attitudes towards their own impacts as recreational fishers tend to follow larger societal trends; that is, recreational anglers tend not to believe that their actions can have impacts as harmful as those of commercial fishers. Nevertheless, the study’s sample reported performing sustainable fishing behaviors, indicating that despite doubt about their own impacts, recreational anglers still hold a sense of responsibility towards the ecosystem. The study recommends that managers communicate in ways that highlight anglers’ personal identification with coastal areas in order to continue encouraging strong fishing ethic and behavior.



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