In 2010, marine recreational fishers spent 85,780,000 days on the water pursuing their sport. Ask most recreational fishermen about their impact on the environment and they quickly point out that they consider themselves conservationists and with their light touch have little or no adverse impacts. However, ask a marine biologist the same question and the focus is on the cumulative effect of such a huge numbers of fish hooks in the water.
Recreational fishing’s impacts on marine resources are misunderstood by both fishermen and by fisheries scientists. In fact large numbers of recreational fishermen can have dramatic negative impacts on resources. Employing simple changes in their approach to fishing, these same individuals may instead play a vital role in the sustainability of at-risk resources. Additionally, by initiating such a regimen of “Best Practices,” these anglers will have a profound positive impact on the future of their sport.
For generations, sport fishing techniques were handed on from parent to child. Lessons included not only how to catch fish, but essential conservation ethics as well. Today’s digital age has done away with much of this personal interaction, instead relying on technical advances to improve chances for fishing success. “Best Practices” are about how we can still have a very successful day on the water yet by employing scientifically vetted conservation friendly fishing techniques substantially reduce sportfishing’s footprint.