Fish Conservation In South African Waters - Anglers Have An Important Role
Just read a shocking presentation from Warren Potts, a senior lecturer at Rhodes in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science. Now I am already a conservationist and I would happily (With a lot of pain and torture) give up angling for a few years in order for our fish stocks to increase. Its absolutely disgusting to see the figures and studies, I have emailed him for permission to post the studies here.
The fact of the matter is, and I am not stirring here, I am speaking from the heart, is if anyone keeps a fish in this day and age you are contributing to the decline. There are simply not enough fish left along our shorelines in South Africa to be removed. Based on the study done, recreational anglers keep/kill twice as many fish per year as inshore trawlers, and I cannot argue with that. Inshore trawlers don't target Galjoen, Musselcracker, Stonebream, Bronze Bream and the list goes on. A scary stat that has got me in-between complete sadness and utter frustration. As Warren says " It doesn't matter if you are a recreational or a commercial, you still have the same type of impact on the resource.
Catch and release is also not the answer if you are not going to do it properly. The survival rate of fish released in the study was between 25% and 98% with various factors being incorporated. And angler can easily ensure he/she has a success rate of over 90% when a fish is released if they do the following:
- Dont fight the fish for too long, dont fight the fish for a short time either.
- Minimize handling.
- Minimize air exposure.
- Minimize time out of water.
- If the fish is hooked anywhere from the gills down dont remove the hook, cut the line at least 5cm from the eye.
- If the fish is released in a rough area, chances are it wont survive or it will be vulnerable to predation.
- Dont throw the fish back, revive it, no matter how long you have fought it for or how big the fish is.
Treat every fish like gold, revive them properly until they are really strong, do so in a safe and calm area. Warren suggests keeping a bucket with you so the fishes head can be kept in water while you are coming back from the rocks or sand and walking to your tackle. Remove the hook in the bucket, take a photo, place the fish back in the bucket and prepare for release.
The time has come where we all need to make a difference, we cant blame commercials, the fisherman of the 50's or anyone else, it is our responsibility NOW, we literally hold the future of fishing in our hands, now its time to see what we can do with it. Imagine if 50% of active Recreational fisherman who fish at least 7 days a year released everything they caught? It can be a reality if we all contribute, there are plenty of fresh fish available in restaurants and supermarkets, so from now on that will be the only place I lay eyes on dead fish, I hope some other anglers could agree with me in certain aspects so we can continue to love fishing and catching fish.