Learning to Manage and Managing to Learn: Sustaining Freshwater Recreational Fisheries in a Changing Environment

Gretchen J.A. Hansen, Jereme W. Gaeta, Jonathan F. Hansen, Stephen R. Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Freshwaters are being transformed by multiple environmental drivers, creating uncertainty about future conditions. One way of coping with uncertainty is to manage for resilience to unanticipated events while facilitating learning through adaptive management. We outline the application of these strategies to freshwater recreational fisheries management using a case study in Wisconsin, USA, where black bass (Micropterus spp.) populations are increasing, while Walleye (Sander vitreus) populations are decreasing. Managing for heterogeneity in functional groups (e.g., age classes and prey species of sport fishes), fishery objectives, and regulations can increase resilience, although heterogeneity must be balanced with replication to facilitate learning. Monitoring designed to evaluate management objectives and inform about critical uncertainties, when combined with heterogeneity, creates opportunities for adaptive management, another critical resilience strategy. Although barriers exist to implementing resilience strategies, management designed to accommodate uncertainty and illuminate its consequences is needed to maintain critical fisheries in a rapidly changing world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by United States Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center Grant 10909172 to the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the WDNR Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (Project F-95-P, study SSBW). The ideas and conclusions of this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of either the WDNR or the USGS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, American Fisheries Society.


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