For many people around the world, fishing is a beloved hobby and a way to source local seafood to eat. But in various places, overfishing is a major issue and puts the environment and native populations at risk.
If you plan to go fishing this summer, consider these tips and ideas to make your fishing practices more environmentally responsible and sustainable.
Basics of Sustainable Fishing
Sustainable fishing makes it a priority to ensure that populations of fish can thrive in the ocean and freshwater bodies of water in the future. People have used fish to feed their families and create other products for thousands of years. However, modern technology has led to fishing practices that deplete fish populations and kill fish at a rate higher than species are able to repopulate.
Problematic Fishing Practices
The bulk of the problem with fishing lies in the commercial fishing industry, not casual anglers out for weekend fun. Purse seining is a fishing practice that incorporates a net to herd fish and captures them together to scoop up many fish at the same time. Another type of fishing called longlining involves dragging a long line with many baited hooks attached to smaller lines behind a boat. Although this is certainly an effective way to catch lots of fish, the immediate payoff is not worth the long-term consequences of overfishing. Other destructive methods are blast fishing using homemade bombs to kill all fish and habits in a particular area, and cyanide fishing, which involves spraying sodium cyanide into fish habitats.
Why Sustainable Fishing Is Important
Various species of fish have been put at risk of becoming endangered because of overfishing, including bluefin tuna and Chilean seabass. Some fish, such as the beluga sturgeon, used for caviar, grow slowly and take longer than the average fish to reproduce. Indigenous cultures throughout history, including the Polynesian cultures of the South Pacific and Native Hawaiians, have understood the importance of sustainable fishing as a way of ensuring long-term food sources, and many of these practices can still be used today to keep our waterways plentiful and thriving. Healthy fisheries ensure food security and ecological balance in our waterways.
How to Go Fishing Responsibly
When practiced mindfully and with respect for the water and all of its inhabitants, fishing can be a fun and rewarding activity that you can do with friends and family. Rod-and-reel fishing is sustainable because it catches just one fish at a time and allows non-targeted species to be released immediately back into the water. Harpooning or spearfishing can be a sustainable practice used to catch large species of fish with very little bycatch.
You can also support the sustainable fishing movement by using lead-free fishing gear, biodegradable nets, and acoustic devices to scare away other marine animals while you are fishing. Fishing at certain times of day can reduce bycatch incidents, and adhering to government rules and restrictions about fishing can help preserve native species. Even if you don’t want to go fishing yourself, you can support sustainable fishing by only choosing seafood products from responsible sources and well-managed fisheries.
Do you plan to go fishing this summer? Share with us what you like to fish for and where you like to fish in the comment section below!