West African recreational fisheries, previously overlooked, are often assumed to be insignificant, yet they are increasingly present on social media given anglers’ tendencies to document their experiences. It is important to catch the trend early on as recreational fisheries develop in order to support their sustainable development and to make the most of the alternative economic opportunities that they offer. Here, the recreational fisheries of 11 West African countries are assessed using tourist records from YouTube, blogs and other unconventional records. We introduce the concept of “Recreational-to-Commercial Ratio (RCR)”, that is, the market-equivalent value per tonne of recreational fish injected to the economy, which is similar to “willingness to pay” for fish caught for recreation. Since the recreational fisheries of West African countries gained popularity in the last few years, catches increased and reached a total of 34,000 t annually, none of which was reported in official fisheries statistics. Recreational catches through a total annual revenue of US$152 million had an RCR of approximately 7, which means that developing recreational fisheries would increase the value of fish (whether caught or released) sevenfold. These findings could have major implications for the economy and conservation of fish stocks in West African countries.
Evaluation of recreational fisheries pdf file: