Recreational fishing in freshwater ecosystems is a popular pastime in Australia. Although most native fish are endemic, the fauna is depauperate compared to any landmass of similar size. With commercial fishing no longer a major industry in the country’s freshwaters, the future sustainability of these ecosystems will depend heavily on the actions of recreational fishers. However, there has been limited focus on the consequences of recreational fishing in freshwaters. There is particularly a dearth of information on the indirect consequences of fishers on the waterbodies they depend on for their sport. After outlining the respective trends in commercial and recreational fishing in Australia as a basis for placing the sport in context, the indirect impacts of fishers on water quality, movement (walking, off-road vehicles), the introduction/translocation of fauna (particularly fish), the dispersal of flora and the transmission of fish disease and pathogens are reviewed. It is concluded that with the decline of commercial fishing, the competition between commercial fin-fishing and recreational fishing is negligible, at least throughout most of the country. It is also concluded that each of the issues addressed has the potential to be detrimental to the long-term sustainability of the freshwater ecosystems that the fishers depend on for their recreation. However, information on these issues is scant. This is despite the current and predicted popularity of freshwater recreational fishing continuing to increase in Australia. Indeed, there has been insufficient quantitative assessment of the impacts to even determine what is required to ensure a comprehensive, adequate and representative protection of these freshwater ecosystems. To underpin the sustainability of inland recreational fishing in the country, it was concluded that research is required to underpin the development and implementation of appropriate policies. The alternative is that the integrity and biodiversity loss of these ecosystems will ultimately result in their collapse before the indirect consequences of recreational fishing have been directly assessed and appropriately protected. However, the lack of protection of wetlands is not restricted to Australia; there is a deficit of freshwater protected areas worldwide.
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