, Volume 500, Issue 1-3, pp 217-230

Impact on indigenous species biodiversity caused by the globalisation of alien recreational freshwater fisheries

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Abstract

One of the most insidious threats to fish conservation around the world is deliberate or accidental introduction of fish species. The impact of alien invasive sport fish is for the most part unpredictable in time and space, with the introduction of relatively few species having resulted in many extirpations of indigenous fish species worldwide. More nations need to quantify biodiversity loss caused by alien sport fishes. The spread of alien invasive fishes does not respect political boundaries. Therefore total global costs to aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning resulting from these introductions need to be assessed. The global invasive species database of the Global Invasive Species Programme, highlights eight fish species among the one hundred `World's Worst Invasive Alien Species'. Three of these fish species (two trout and one bass species) were introduced solely for sport. Historically the social value of recreational fishing was usually more important than conserving biodiversity. Globalisation of alien fish species for sport is best illustrated by rainbow trout – now in 82 countries, and still spreading, along with the associated expensive angling gear, magazines and accommodation infrastructure. Such sport species have become part of the global consumer society. The nature and extent of the globalisation phenomenon is addressed with regard to how introduction of alien fish for recreational angling has impacted on biodiversity; trophic cascades at a local level and the unassessed total cumulative global trophic cascades; and some of the motives that underlie promotion of this sport within the complexity of globalisation as we know it today. Alien invasive recreational fish species are now recognised as a global environmental degradation problem resulting in loss of biodiversity and therefore require a global solution. Parallel trends such as globalisation of environmental education and the internet must be encouraged to counteract the damage caused and reverse the trend. This globally concerted campaign requires utilizing environmental education forums aimed at the angling community, general public and policy makers; networking with existing alien invasive groups; legislation; better understanding of processes; development of environmental economic evaluation tools; international bio-invasion control; wider use of the precautionary approach and utilization of the present globalisation of ecological thought.