Athletes and fishermen are some of the most environmentally conscious people you will ever meet. They understand that using the resources on this earth is a privilege and that we must take care of them or take the risk of permanently destroying them – and that goes for our fisheries. There is a wrong way to fish. Knowing about illegal fishing practices can help raise awareness of the consequences and promote fish conservation.
Aside from the obvious disadvantage of breaking the law, people who use illegal fishing methods are destroying habitats, decimating fish populations, threatening our economy and compromising their credibility. Here are some of the illegal fishing practices that threaten our marine ecosystems.
- Cyanide fishing. A deadly chemical that allows criminals to stun the fish and more easily catch it.
- Use of explosives. Dynamite is used to kill the fish so that they swim to the surface and can be scooped with a net.
- Keep under- or oversized fish. Length restrictions ensure that a smaller population of fish is eligible for harvest. This reduces the pressure on juveniles and larger spawning fish that are needed for repopulation.
- Overfishing. This occurs when more fish are caught than can be naturally reproduced by the remaining population. Leisure and commercial “pocket limits” are in place to ensure proper management of various fish species. Recreational anglers contribute to overfishing by keeping more fish than what federal or state law allows.
- Bycatch. This is a method of overfishing that is common in the commercial industry. When fishing with nets for a target species, numerous non-target species are caught and often returned dead or injured into the water.
- Bottom trawling. A highly destructive fishing method that involves dragging a massive, weighted net across the ocean floor to catch fish and destroy everything in its path
Read more about how destructive fishing practices are affecting our marine ecosystems. You can help combat illegal fishing by buying only sustainably caught fish for consumption. By purchasing your fishing license, you are also helping to fund government conservation programs such as fisheries research and management, habitat protection and restoration, and education programs.