What does sustainable fishing mean to me?
My goal as an angler and a guide is to interact with the fish and the habitat that supports them in a manner that does not adversely impact either one. Some impacts are inevitable, but as long as they are minor in nature, understood, and within levels that the fishery and environment can recover from, they can be reasonable.
What fishing practices do I engage in that help fisheries?
I’m not certain whether I chose to be a fishing guide or that guiding chose me, but after several years, I transitioned from an all styles guide to a fly fishing only focus. While arguable, though born out from my personal experiences, fly fishers tend to be more concerned about the environment they fish within and the fish themselves. As a guide, I noticed that my impacts on the fishery in the Kenai River were considerably less on fly fishing trips then on trips with a salmon harvest focus and any means (gear/bait) tactics. I strongly believe in catch and release for resident wild fish and selective harvest of salmon from sustainable fisheries only. Some years, run strengths may dictate self imposed restrictions beyond allowable limits. Choosing not to take the largest fish for food from within a population is also a personal choice that can be beneficial to the fishery.
As a guide, I view educating anglers as a huge component to the fishing trip experience. Guiding should go beyond catching and learning to catch fish. Helping our clients to understand the ecosystem, our impacts while fishing and outside threats and concerns to the fishery and habitat are paramount to sustaining our future on the water.
Other thoughts on this subject
Most of us have homewater or possibly several locations where we spend the majority of our time fishing. Take some ownership. Learn it. Find out about the history of your water and how it is today vs. the past. Is it getting better or worse? Can you help? Join a local fishing club or start one with a focus on issues facing your homewater. Join a national organization that focuses attention on your homewater. Help, protect, defend and sustain it!
As anglers, it is imperative that we each develop our own code of ethics with a focus on Green Fishing practices. It is imperative that we take responsibility for sustaining the habitats and the health of the fish we pursue. It is imperative that we help educate new anglers and show them wonders that fishing can provide. Sustainable fishing needs sustainable anglers.
Support businesses that support fish.
GreenFish has three primary goals:
1) Improve our fisheries and marine environments
2) Promote responsible and sustainable fishing techniques such as catch & release
3) Promote and protect the sport of recreational fishing for future generations to enjoy
Fishing and conservation are dependent on one another. GreenFish offers a fine outline to follow and I’d happily sport any of their apparel. Good luck and fish on!