Conservation bottom-up initiatives in marine recreational spearfishing suggest the emergence of positive attitudes towards conservation




recreational fishing, citizen science, plastic pollution, participatory management


We show that marine recreational spearfishers voluntarily organize bottom-up conservation actions. The main goals of these actions are to provide support to research in monitoring fish assemblages, tracking biological invasions or mitigating impacts on the environment, such as those stemming from pollution and littering. We show that such initiatives started more than 20 years ago and are now facilitated by social media networking. We argue that the emergence of bottom-up conservation actions in marine recreational spearfishers should be encouraged, supported and integrated into participatory management plans. This is important to mitigate the potential negative impacts of marine recreational spearfishing and to catalyse broader civil actions for conservation of marine ecosystems.


Download data is not yet available.


Arlinghaus R., Abbott J.K., Fenichel E.P., et al. 2019. Governing the recreational dimension of global fisheries. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 116: 5209-5213.

Assis J., Gonçalves J.M.S., Veiga P., et al. 2018. Spearfishing in Portugal: A baseline study on spearfishers’ profiles, habits and perceptions towards management measures. Fish. Manag. Ecol. 25: 417-428.

Cooke S.J., Suski C.D., Arlinghaus R., et al. 2013. Voluntary institutions and behaviours as alternatives to formal regulations in recreational fisheries management. Fish Fish. 14: 439-457.

Diogo H., Veiga P., Pita C., et al. 2020. Marine recreational fishing in Portugal: Current knowledge, challenges, and future perspectives. Rev. Fish. Sci. Aquac. 28: 536-560.

Fujitani M.L., Riepe C., Pagel T., et al. 2020. Ecological and social constraints are key for voluntary investments into renewable natural resources. Glob. Environ. Change 63: 102125.

Giglio V.J., Bender M.G., Zapelini C., et al. 2017. The end of the line? Rapid depletion of a large-sized grouper through spearfishing in a subtropical marginal reef. Perspect. Ecol. Conserv. 15: 115-118.

Gordoa A., Dedeu A.L., Boada J. 2019. Recreational fishing in Spain: First national estimates of fisher population size, fishing activity and fisher social profile. Fish. Res. 211: 1-12.

Januchowski-Hartley F.A., Graham N.A.J., Feary D.A., et al. 2011. Fear of fishers: Human predation explains behavioral changes in coral reef fishes. Plos ONE 6: e22761.

Lewin W.C., Weltersbach M.S., Ferter K., et al. 2019. Potential environmental impacts of recreational fishing on marine fish stocks and ecosystems. Rev. Fish. Sci. Aquac. 27: 287-330.

Lindfield S.J., McIlwain J.L., Harvey E.S. 2014. Depth refuge and the impacts of SCUBA spearfishing on coral reef fishes. Plos ONE 9: e92628.

Lloret J., Zaragoza N., Caballero D., et al. 2008. Spearfishing pressure on fish communities in rocky coastal habitats in a Mediterranean marine protected area. Fish. Res. 94: 84-91.

Pavlowich T., Kapuscinski A.R. 2017. Understanding spearfishing in a coral reef fishery: Fishers’ opportunities, constraints, and decision-making. PloS ONE 12: e0181617.

Reed T.V. 2018. Digitized lives: Culture, power and social change in the internet era. Routledge, London, 332 pp.

Sbragaglia V., Pla O.S., Gordoa A., et al. 2016. The Barcelona agreement: a manifesto towards the spearfishing of the future. Sci. Mar. 80: 423-426.

Sbragaglia V., Morroni L., Bramanti L., et al. 2018. Spearfishing modulates flight initiation distance of fishes: the effects of protection, individual size, and bearing a speargun. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 75: 1779-1789.

Whatmough S., Van Putten I., Chin A. 2011. From hunters to nature observers: a record of 53 years of diver attitudes towards sharks and rays and marine protected areas. Mar. Freshw. Res. 62: 755-763.



How to Cite

Sbragaglia V, Arlinghaus R. Conservation bottom-up initiatives in marine recreational spearfishing suggest the emergence of positive attitudes towards conservation. scimar [Internet]. 2020Dec.11 [cited 2021Apr.22];84(4):441-4. Available from:



News & Comments

Funding data

Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Grant numbers IJC2018-035389-I

Most read articles by the same author(s)