Sportsmen and anglers are some of the most conservation-conscious folks you’ll ever meet. They understand that it’s a privilege to use the resources on this earth and that we must take care of them or risk permanently destroying them—and that applies to our fisheries. There is a wrong way to fish. By being aware of illegal fishing methods, you can help raise awareness about the consequences and promote fish conservation.
Besides the obvious negative of breaking the law, people who use illegal fishing methods destroy habitat, decimate fish populations, threaten our economy, and blemish their credibility. Here are some of the illegal fishing practices threatening our marine ecosystems.
- Cyanide fishing. A deadly chemical used by offenders to stun the fish and make them easier to catch.
- Use of explosives. Dynamite is used to kill the fish so that they float to the surface and can be scooped with a net.
- Keeping undersized or oversized fish. Length limits ensure that a smaller population of fish are eligible for harvest. This reduces pressure on juveniles and larger spawning size fish needed to repopulate.
- Overfishing. This occurs when more fish are caught than can be naturally reproduced by the remaining population. Recreational and commercial “bag limits” are in place to ensure proper management of various species of fish. Recreational anglers contribute to overfishing by keeping more fish than are legally allowed by state or federal laws.
- Bycatch. This is a method of overfishing often seen in the commercial industry. When fishing with nets for a target species, numerous non-target species are incidentally captured and often returned to the water dead or injured.
- Bottom trawling. An extremely destructive fishing method where a massive, weighted net is dragged along the seafloor, capturing fish and destroying everything in its path
Read more about how destructive fishing practices impact our marine ecosystems. You can help combat illegal fishing by purchasing only sustainably-caught fish for consumption. Also, by purchasing your fishing license you are helping to fund state conservation programs such as fisheries research and management, habitat protection and restoration, and educational programs.