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Do we need to ban drones used for recreational fishing?

Alex Winkler

One Ocean Hub, University of Strathclyde, UK

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  • Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU),
  • Environmental ethics,
  • biodiversity,
  • marine ecosystems,
  • Recreational fisheries,
  • Conflict
Target Group
  • Policy makers,
  • Researchers,
  • Community workers
  • English
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This blog suggests that increasing use of drones for recreational fishing, raises ethical, environmental, and safety concerns, with potential impacts on threatened species.

This blog, published on the 28 September 2022, suggests that the use of drones for recreational fishing has increased in recent years, sparks ethical concerns, potential privacy and safety issues, conflicts among fishing groups, and environmental impacts, particularly on species like sharks in South Africa, where the practice is popular; while global legislation directly regulating drone fishing is lacking, some countries have started imposing bans, as the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment did for South African waters; these drones can improve fishers’ ability to catch fish, but they are primarily recreational fishers driven by pleasure rather than profit, which poses concerns about the potential impacts on fish stocks and conservation; the popularity of drone fishing has risen since 2016, with the catalyst being a viral YouTube video; the drone fishing phenomenon affects the socio-ecological system, impacting fish species, habitats, and other coastal zone users; potential socio-ecological effects include increased fishing pressure on previously safe fish habitats, catch-and-release issues due to long fight times and exhaustion, loss of fishing tackle in the ocean, harassment of beach animals like birds, intersectoral conflicts among fishing groups, and privacy and safety concerns for beach users; although drone fishing was not explicitly regulated in South Africa at the time of the article, new regulations have since been put in place to address this issue.