Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Greenfish Writing Prompt From OBN

As most of you know , I'm a member of the Outdoor Blogger Network. Every week the kind folks at OBN post a " Writing Prompt " to help out outdoor bloggers who are strapped for ideas or who just want to participate as an active member of the community. I always enjoy reading what others write about the various weekly topics , but until now none of the weekly prompts have really interested me.

This week's writing prompt is different because it really hits home with me. Greenfish is an outdoor apparel company that is trying to :
1) Improve our fisheries and marine environments
2) Promote responsible and sustainable fishing techniques such as catch & release
3) Promote and protect the sport of recreational fishing for future generations to enjoy
 Sounds like a noble cause to me! While I don't practice catch and release one hundred percent of the time , I can certainly get on board with an organization that promotes responsible and sustainable fishing practices. Having said that , this blog entry is my submission for the GreenFish and Outdoor Blogger Network Writing Prompt Giveaway .


I've been a die hard fisherman since I was 8 or 9 years old , and I've been able to witness first hand the changes in people's attitudes over the years. When I was growing up , people kept what they caught. By the late eighties this practice had resulted in the decimation of lots of fisheries.  It was around this time that many states started implementing strict regulations in regards to keeping your catch. This was also when the whole concept of " Catch and Release " started to gain a foothold in the minds of many anglers. For many fishermen , the days of plenty were over. I have to say I'm glad things changed when they did or we would be in even more trouble than we are now.

It's not over. Fisheries management is hotly debated on internet message boards and in tackle shops across the country. Some of the laws designed to prevent overfishing and the resulting decline in fish populations have met with great success , while others have been miserable failures.

In my opinion , freshwater fishing has benefited the most from these regulations and the change in people's fishing practices. In many waters across the country , fish stocks have rebounded and people are back to catching fish. This doesn't mean it's safe to return to our old ways. Disaster can and often does strike. Pollution , disease and invasive species are all threats to our lakes and streams that have to be monitored constantly for signs of trouble. Freshwater fishermen will have to be diligent in their efforts to conserve and protect the species we all love to catch.

Saltwater fishing is another story. Saltwater anglers have to deal with an industrialized commercial fishing industry that is responsible for TONS of fish being killed and discarded as bycatch. Recreational anglers are at the mercy of the regulating agencies that currently favor the commercial fleet. Commercial fishermen's livelihood is at stake with the threat of being regulated out of a job and the possibility that overfishing could leave them without fish to catch. As it stands now , it's a bad situation for everyone involved.

While there have been some success stories , bad things caused by poor fisheries management practices and ridiculous regulations continue to happen. In the news recently was the uproar caused by a trawler that was directly responsible for killing THOUSANDS of Striped Bass. There is also growing concern about the overfishing of the Menhaden population here on the East Coast , which is a very important food source for game fish. Commercial and recreational anglers need to work together to pressure regulating agencies into rewriting old regulations so that they manage current populations in a way that is sustainable and sensible.

I could go on and on about this subject in regards to outdated and unfair saltwater regulations. Right now , most regulations hold the recreational angler to higher standards of sustainable fishing , while allowing commercial boats to harvest smaller and more fish in the name of profit. Don't forget the bycatch either , which probably kills more fish per year than recreational fishermen catch (my opinion).

Sustainable fishing is something we all need to work towards. Practicing catch and release is an important tool for conservation , but it is certainly not the only thing you can do. Selective harvesting of fish that have reached their potential is a good practice on many waters because it is possible for fish to become overpopulated which can lead to stunting of their growth and increased vulnerability to parasites and disease.

I try to use my head and practice what I feel is right for the body of water I'm fishing. Another thing we can all do is follow the regulations to the letter , whether we agree with them or not. I do keep and eat fish , and I'm certainly not ashamed to admit it , but I don't keep more than what my family and I will eat. I try to be realistic in my approach to conservation. If I catch a legal fish of a highly regulated species , I often release them to fight another day and to give them a chance to reproduce. If the same fish is deeply hooked or has a bad chance of survival if released , I keep it.

The issues facing fishermen everywhere won't go away on their own. I support Greenfish and wish them well on their mission to advocate for sustainable and responsible fishing practices. We all need to push for more responsible fishery management.

4 comments:

  1. I agree....agree....and agree with this whole post! Great job JM

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  2. Thanks for stopping by LB! I appreciate the kind words!

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  3. I've really enjoyed reading all of these Greenfish-inspired posts. Yours did not disappoint. Well done.

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  4. Thanks for stopping by troutrageous! I really enjoyed writing it. The subject of conservation and politics is something I rarely write about here on the blog , but it's one I've had a lot of experience with because I fish in several different states.

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