For starts we contacted all sides; recreational anglers, fishing industry and business participants, commercial fishers, government officials and conservation authorities with our request for input on our new column, Foul Gear.
We certainly were surprised by some of the responses we received. Overwhelmingly they were either focusing on the gear or actions of commercial or recreational fishers, but only a few responders combined bad gear and practices of both sides.
However, despite the wide diversity of the people we surveyed there was a ringing consensus among all who contributed to this inaugural column on at least three sides.
All who responded agreed more needs to be done to sustain our fisheries; and that education was paramount; and they were passionate about fisheries management.
On the recreational side fishing with J hooks got a thumb’s down while circle hooks got the thumb’s up. Practices like catch and release and using dehooking devices to release fish received a serious thumb’s up. We were surprised not to get any comments on bending down a hook’s barb and decreasing the use of treble hooks.
The recreational anglers got negative flack on their ability to use electronic devices like the GPS to tune into superior fishing grounds time and time again.
Here’s a look at a few of the suggestions we received.
1) Bottom trawling for shrimp and fish
2. Purse seine
3. Pelagic Long line
4. Strike netting
5. Fish traps
6. Bottom long line
7. Pair trawls
8. Shrimp farming
9. Salmon farming
10. Inshore otter door trawling.
11. Bad politics (apparently in places like North Carolina the feeling is that the Marine Fisheries Commission is owned/operated by the commercial fishing industry)
12. Ghost nets or lost gear
1) TV show host holding fish out of the water for to long, while talking about it
2) Misuse of Boca Grip style tools
3) Mishandling fish. Holding large fish vertically, placing hands into their gills.
4) The killing, wasting or mishandling of undesired or under size species
5) Fish placed into a freezer and forgotten
6) Discarded fishing line
8) Disregard for fishing regulations
There were a number of other issues that came up during this survey including tuna ranching, over capitalized industrial commercial fleets, poor regulations and enforcement internationally and finally, global climate change due to our carbon use, specifically ocean acidification, water temperature rise in both salt % fresh water and sea level rise affecting near shore waters and habitat and salinity.