Chasing the thrill or just passing the time? Trialing a new mixed methods approach to understanding heterogeneity amongst recreational fishers based on motivations
Human dimensions researchers and fisheries managers have long recognized the value of exploring the heterogeneity that exists amongst recreational fishers. Understanding the differences between fishers has the potential to assist managers in developing targeted communication strategies, direct resources to active management more efficiently and improve understanding of how fishers will respond to changes in regulations or new management interventions. Human dimensions research has traditionally explored fisher heterogeneity through research into the different reasons why people choose to fish, as well as attempts to categorize or segment fishers using variable based approaches. These studies have, to date, relied primarily on large scale, quantitative survey techniques with a particular focus on fisher avidity and commitment. They are therefore limited in their ability to explain how different fishing motivations might interact within an individual, why particular motivations are prioritized, and how this might influence fisher behavior and attitudes. This study trialed a mixed methods approach to understanding fisher heterogeneity based primarily on motivations using a case study in NSW, Australia. This trial involved utilizing a person-centered approach known as Latent Class Analysis (LCA), followed by qualitative, in depth focus group discussions. This revealed five distinct fisher classes; Social fishers, Trophy Fishers, Outdoor Enthusiasts, Generalists and Hunter-Gatherers, each with distinct and significantly different combinations of catch and non-catch-related motivations. The qualitative analysis sought to explore the intersection of motivations and attitudes towards management within and across the different fisher classes. The results highlighted the importance of more detailed examination of the intersection between motivations and attitudes in future LCA, with a particular focus on the potential influence of mastery (or challenge/experience) motivations on fisher attitudes to wards marine and fisheries management approaches.