According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, 1 in 5 fish sold is caught illegally, which means that illegal fishing is a global problem with severe repercussions on the ecosystem. It is estimated that around a third of the total seafood imported in the United States is caught illegally, counting for a market that is worth over $23 billion per year.
Combined with the highly polluted waters and global warming, illegal fishing has already caused the extinction of several sea creatures. If the fate of our Earth were in your hands, what would you do to protect this planet and its waters? Here are some easy ways to become more conscious about nature, starting with your fishing habits.
Know and respect fishing regulations
Even catching one pound more fish than you are allowed to can have negative consequences, so, the first thing you should take into account is the local fishing rules and regulations. Every state and country has its set of regulations for both inland and marine fish species.
You should also know the species of fish you are most likely to encounter, as otherwise, you cannot properly identify them and compare your catch to the size and bag limits imposed by laws.
Don’t forget about the fishing season either. Most regular fish species can be caught anywhere from early spring to late fall but some others will only leave you a small window of opportunity for planning your fishing trip.
Practice catch and release
There is nothing wrong with catching a few fish to fry on the grill for lunch or dinner as long as you don’t do it regularly. Even though fishing is your one true passion, you should learn to be more responsible and practice catch and release.
Some competitions even allow you to catch the big game, weigh it immediately and then throw it back in the water so it has a chance to live another day. By throwing back your catch you allow fish to mate and reproduce more, keeping the waters populated so you’ll have a better fishing season next year.
However, practicing catch and release involves the use of special fishing gear that won’t harm or kill the fish when trying to pull it out of the water. Learn about the methods practiced by other anglers such as using barbless hooks for less damage or non-stainless hooks to diminish mortality rates.
Consider fishing for invasive species
Although we advocate for releasing the fish each time you catch it, there are certain situations when keeping it outside the waters is, in fact, the right thing to do.
Many lakes and rivers are now populated with invasive fish species that spread diseases and displace native fish from their original habitat. In the United States, you can find various species that don’t belong to the local ecosystem, endangering the existing species.
The lionfish, snakehead fish, the Asian carp or the flathead catfish are only a few of the species that can prey on the local fish or fight for the same food resources. If you happen to catch one of these fish, avoid sending them back into the waters.
Use organic lures and baits
A wide variety of the baits used by newbies and professional anglers alike are made of plastic or other dangerous materials. They are lightweight and come in flashy colors which can attract fish from afar but can also pollute the waters if you lose them. Lead sinkers and jigs are also dangerous because they poison the fish and all the other natural resources found in the waters.
Instead, you could opt for alternative methods to find fish and this report on Lowrance will help you find convenient and harmless devices to track fish.