Fly fishing no-kill zones: a possible way to conjugate conservation issues, sustainable sport enhancement and local development in Alpine areas?
The promotion of sustainable tourism and outdoor sports can represent an important way to couple environmental conservation strategies and economic enhancement in marginal and Alpine areas. In this context catch and release fly fishing zones can represent an interesting tool, although no data is available on the effectiveness of these practices on Alpine salmonid population dynamics. Salmonids are the main group of fish in alpine rivers and they are the only actively targeted by anglers. Aim of this work is filling this gap, with a pilot study on two no-kill zones (Po and Pellice rivers, NW Italy). We conducted a temporal and spatial comparison between free-fishing and catch and release management river sections, with a detailed analysis on the Po River site. Our results support the hypothesis that catch and release management allows a numerical increase in wild trout populations. In particular, we detected a massive and rapid increase in younger individuals, possibly linked to a stop on the removal of large-sized reproducers. Protecting trout by the implementation of this practice can at the same time allow the increase of sustainable economic development and sport in marginal areas.
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