Scientific and Stakeholder Perspectives on the Use of Circle Hooks in Recreational Fisheries
Catch-and-release science has revealed that one of the strongest correlates of mortality for fishes is deep hooking in areas such as the esophagus, gills, or stomach, which is largely influenced by gear choice and angler behavior. Circle hooks represent a gear type that has been shown to reduce incidences of deep hooking, but not for all species or fishing methods. The apparent condition-dependent success as well as wide range of circle hook configurations causes confusion for the angling community and challenges for fisheries managers. An online snowball- style survey ( n = 1354 completed) targeting north american anglers that have used circle hooks was implemented to examine stakeholder perspectives, an approach that has the potential to reveal issues and opportunities with respect to circle hook use and implementation as a management tool. our survey identified that respondent perspectives tended to be consistent with scientific literature. Most respondents reported that circle hooks are useful (in terms of enabling capture and shallow hooking) for certain species and types of fisheries/methods, but of little use for others (i.e., low hookup rates). However, a number of respondents identified the need for additional education, particularly related to hook sets. Most respondents were apprehensive about broad-scale regulations requiring circle hooks, but felt that such regulations could be used in specific instances. Identifying the factors that influence when circle hooks are effective and the barriers to angler adoption of circle hooks in instances where they are deemed effective represent key research needs. Regional or fishery-specific social science surveys based on random sampling are needed to further advance understanding of circle hooks and ultimately lead to a reduction in deep hooking and fish mortality.