Anti Sportfishing or Smart Sportfishing?

I was recently engaging in a discussion with some fellow anglers in our online fishing community website . The discussion revolved around if some members of the fishing community, myself included, have become anti-sportfishing. The reason for this perception is because I and others have been calling for reduced harvest limits for fish, crabs and an all out moratorium on oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. My personal views have evolved over the years regarding fishing limits. I am a recreational angler, no two ways about it. It’s my main hobby and I actaully do it for a living full time running Lateral Line with my brother Spencer My views are that fisheries need to be managed for sustainability, end of story. That means I support my own recreational fishing as well as commercial fishing as long as it is being done and manged in a sustainable manner. I would argue that we do not have sustainable fishing regulations in the Chesapeake Bay given the pollution that is now effecting it. Pollution is the cause of a lot of our issues, but that does not mean we can keep harvesting at the same rate as we did when it was much more healthy.

Why take this view? So that we have fish for the future. I do not want to be talking about striped bass, crabs, oysters, croaker, flounder etc in 35 years like we now have to talk about sturgeon. It’s really that simple.

Many blame the watermen for the lack of fish in the Chesapeake Bay, I think that is misdirected blame. Watermen are just trying to make a living. Their main goal is to make money off the fish they sell. The watermen, for the most part, took what was/is allowed by law, just like the recreational anglers do. The people to blame when it comes to allowable catches (or better yet, the absence of sustainable catch limits) in Maryland is the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Their mission is, this is from their website, “The Department of Natural Resources preserves, protects, enhances and restores Maryland’s natural resources for the wise use and enjoyment of all citizens.” Do they really do that?…… If they do then why aren’t there sturgeon in the Chesapeake Bay anymore? Sturgeon are not gone because of pollution, they disappeared before pollution was as much as an impact as it is today. Study the history and you will see they are gone because of extraordinary poor management. If I sound mad about not having sturgeon in the Chesapeake Bay, I am and I think we all have a right to be mad at those that allowed it. Having said that, we need to learn from the past and correct things so it does not happen with other fish.

I think many anglers have evolved to share my view of sustainable fishing. Do not mistake supporting sustainable fishing as being anti sportfishing, in fact I would argue the exact opposite, that the position of sustainable fishing is as pro sportfishing as you can get. This view wants fish for the future so we have sport fishing in the future. Think about it….

This view takes some personal sacrifice for the fish. That means for instance that if there were an upper limit put on “trophy fish” in the spring striped bass season in the Chesapeake Bay that I as a recreational angler of the sustainable fishing practices viewpoint would have to suffer the consequences of that. That means I might not get to keep that 55incher that I would love to have. But, if it means that putting that fish back in order to hope it does spawn and helps assure there will be more big fish for the future then so be it. The rewards will pay off for the short term sacrifice.

This is not anti sportfishing, this is smart sportfishing.

I hope this at least clears up some confusion between what might be perceived as anti-sportfishing and what is actaully smart sportfishing.



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