Sportsfishing by the numbers

The real effect of recreational fishing on the fishery decline

Are you pro or against sports fishing? The opposers of recreational fishing are claiming that it has a huge impact on the overall health of the US marine world.

But how truthful is this belief?

Even though many recreational fishermen go out fishing just a few times a year and go home with a few fish, the statistics released by the National Marine Fishery Service show that back in 2011, about 10 million fishermen went on 60 million fishing trips and caught more than 345 million fish. So, it turns out that even if you fish with only one hook and if you go fishing just a few times a year when the numbers are added up, the overall impact on the depletion of the fisheries in the country is huge.

The same report claims that recreational fishermen do release about 60% of the fish they catch due to the regulations for the size limits, the seasonal limitations, and others. This means that only 40% of the fish caught by individual non-professional fishermen get carried home and that 200 million of the fish caught is being released back in the fisheries.

Still, the problem is that according to the Fishery Service and the owners, most of the fish captured, photographed and released doesn’t survive.

There is no single reason for the big mortality rate of the fish being released back in the fisheries, but the regulators now are including those in the total catch, because releasing the fish and it dying is the same as taking it home and cooking it for dinner, according to the regulators and marine scientists.

This is why the efforts of the regulators are focused on applying best practices in the fisheries in order to decrease this mortality rate and ensuring that fewer of the 200 million fish released back die after being caught.

The best practices employed by the fisheries and by the fishermen will help improve the survival rates and will potentially increase their overall catches. This type of care and conservation will ensure that recreational fishermen can continue enjoying their hobby for longer and that they can pass it on to their children and grandchildren as well.

Workshops for such best practices of fishing and releasing the fish are held all around the country, to help anglers learn how to handle and release the fish back into the fisheries properly and safely. Many of them, as well as many fishing tournaments, encourage the use of only human power for fishing, and that the fishing and release should be performed in the safest possible way for the fish.