Fisheries Science

, Volume 85, Issue 2, pp 271–283 | Cite as

A comparison of freshwater fisheries management in the USA and Japan

  • Frank J. RahelEmail author
  • Yoshinori Taniguchi
Review Article


The USA and Japan differ in their approaches to managing inland recreational fisheries. The USA uses a public property rights regime whereby access rights are assigned to the states, which manage the fishery resource for the public good. Japan uses a common property rights regime whereby access rights for waterways are assigned to fishery unions, which manage the resource for the benefit of their members. Members of fishery unions are likely to develop an emotional attachment to the fishery that results in few regulation violations or illegal fish introductions. The USA would benefit from actions that promote such a caretaker attitude toward the environment. Habitat improvement is a major activity in the USA but is less prevalent in Japan where stocking is the dominant management activity. Catch-and-release angling, size restrictions, and employment of professional fisheries biologists are more prevalent in the USA compared to Japan. The USA has a tax on fishing equipment that funds management activities whereas such a funding source is lacking in Japan. Despite differences in management regimes, both countries face similar challenges in recruiting new anglers and meeting the conflicting mandates to enhance sport fisheries while conserving native species.


Angling Japan USA Fisheries management Recreational fishing 



The ideas in this paper benefitted from discussions with Japanese fisheries biologists during a University of Wyoming sabbatical in Japan by FJ Rahel. We thank Yoichiro Kanno, Tomoyuki Nakamura and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Physiology, Program in EcologyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and TechnologyMeijo UniversityNagoyaJapan

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