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Anglers Fight to Save Fishing Areas in Australia

Australian anglers are fighting to save “iconic fishing areas” from “Greens and other anti-angling groups.”

Read the story here.

And anglers in the United States should pay attention. Although much of their business is conducted in the shadows, those who want to stop us from fishing are hard at work over here. Among others, their tools are the National Ocean Council and campaigns for Marine Protected Areas, as well as attempts to ban lead fishing tackle and restrict access on the pretence of preventing the spread of invasive species.


FWC Explains Electrofishing in New Video

Electrofishing booms. Photo from FWC.

Check out this great new video from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, explaining how electrofishing is done and its benefits. It also provides good information on how to handle various species of freshwater fish, including bass and catfish.


Threat to Fisheries From Asian Carp, Zebra Mussels Continues to Grow

Zebra mussels can hitchhike from one fishery to another on outboard engines.

More bad news regarding aquatic invasive species. So what else is new?

First, the U.S. Geological Survey says in a June 18 report that four tributary rivers of the Great Lakes have conditions conducive for successful spawning by Asian carp. They include the Milwaukee and St. Joseph Rivers on Lake Michigan and the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers on Lake Erie.

Of course, the Asian carp must enter the Great Lakes first --- if they haven’t already.

Regarding that situation, a little good news does exist: The governor of Illinois says that he is in favor of severing the manmade connection between the Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin.

“Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,” Pat Quinn said. “I really feel that is the ultimate solution.”

Until now, Illinois has sided with Chicago, Indiana, the Obama administration, and commercial navigation interests in opposing separation. Most of the other Great Lakes states want separation to protect the system’s billion-dollar fishery from Asian carp.

Additionally, separation would prevent migration of other invasive species in the future into and out of the Great Lakes.

The second piece of bad news is that a live zebra mussel has been found in Texas’ Lewisville Lake, less than a year after an established population was confirmed in Lake Ray Roberts, just a few miles to the north. Likely the mussel was brought in on a boat hull or trailer, but it could have drifted down the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.

Mussel colonies can clog water intakes, costing metropolitan areas like Dallas/Fort Worth millions of dollars in maintenance costs over time to protect water supply reservoirs.

No matter where they are fishing, anglers should conscientiously inspect their boats and trailers when leaving a lake or impoundment to be certain that they are not about to transport these shellfish and other invasives.  If voluntary compliance isn’t enough to stop the spread, access restrictions inevitably will follow.


Inactive Anglers Are Embarrassment in Fight for Bristol Bay and on Other Issues

Sadly, environmentalists and fishermen, who are conservationists, don’t have much in common these days. That’s because of much of the environmental agenda is inherently anti-fishing. 

Much of that stems from enviros refusal to differentiate between recreational fishing and commercial fishing.

As a matter of fact, anglers were among the first “environmentalists” because of their concern for clean water and healthy fisheries. Today, they contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually for resource management through license fees and excise taxes on fishing tackle. And, unlike commercials, they keep only a tiny fraction of what they catch.

But stopping Pebble Mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay is one thing that enviros and anglers--- both recreational and commercial-- agree on. Its creation would lead to the devastation of one of the world’s few remaining unspoiled salmon fisheries.

More than 925 angling and hunting groups, as well as related businesses, now are on record as supporting EPA’s assessment of the danger and asking that agency to take the necessary steps to deny permitting for the mine.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post newspaper reports the following:

“Almost all the comments urging the EPA to block the mine have been generated by major environmental groups . . .

“The Natural Resources Defense Council produced 83,095 comments, more than any other group in favor of EPA action, while the Pew Charitable Trusts came in second with 41,158 comments.”

Now here is where you come in. You have until June 30 to voice your opposition to the mine. Go here to do so, and, in the process, enter a contest to win a fishing trip to Bristol Bay.

Thus far, the enviros have done most of the heavy lifting in producing comments. As of May 18, only about 6,000 sportsmen had participated.

In a nation where 60 million people describe themselves as anglers, that’s beyond pathetic.

“Sadly, fishermen have lagged, but not by any lack of effort,” said Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska. “Keep America Fishing sent out two notices to their massive list. Many other groups and businesses sent action alerts and posted to their Facebook groups, whose collective number of followers is in the millions.”

So, what all of this tells me is that sometimes enviros and anglers can agree on an issue, and that’s a good thing. Maybe one will lead to more.

But it also suggests that we’re going to lose when we oppose them on any issue that requires grassroots support. Almost certainly we outnumber them, but too many anglers are content to just go fishing and leave standing up for our sport to someone else.

Mark my words: Eventually, that’s going to bite us in the butt big time.


Future of Fishing Threatened by PETA Propaganda

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, the article below (For Cod’s Sake Stop Fishing) provides a perfect example of the irrational and false arguments against recreational fishing that we must confront and dispel. Written by a PETA “senior writer,” it appeared, unchallenged, in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on June 8.

No doubt the organization managed to get it inserted in other media as well.

Particularly note the second paragraph, which alleges that fish can feel pain and fear and “these facts are no longer in question.”

But none of the “facts” cited are supported by credible fisheries scientists.

Here’s the truth:

“When a fish is hooked by an angler, it typically responds with rapid swimming behavior that appears to be a flight response,” says Dr. James Rose, who has spent more than 30 years studying neurological responses  to pain in animals. “Human observers sometimes interpret this flight response to be a reaction to pain, as if the fish was capable of the same kind of pain experience as a human.”

But fish “don’t have the brain systems necessary to experience pain,” he says, adding that “flight responses of fish are a general reaction to many types of potentially threatening stimuli and can’t be taken to represent a response to pain.”

Someone did respond (Anti-Fishing Column Nonsense). But even though the writer did defend fishing for food, she bought into the argument that fish feel pain and fear.

That’s what is insidious and dangerous.  If these zealots can convince enough people that fishing for sport is wrong, they will be well on their way to banning fishing entirely. They've already achieved a ban on catch-and-release fishing in parts of Europe.

I write about this threat and others  in “No Fishing?,” an essay in my new book, Why We Fish.

The threat is very real, my friends. Please don't ignore it.

For cod’s sake stop fishing

Earlier this month, a German angler made headlines for reeling in a 103-pound cod off the coast of Norway. The fish is believed to be the largest cod ever caught anywhere in the world, and if confirmed, the catch will break the existing record, which was set back in 1969. As I looked at the obligatory photos of the grinning angler with his “prize” and giving the “thumbs-up,” my first thought wasn’t, “Atta, boy!” but “How disconnected does a person have to be to take pleasure in killing other living beings – any other living beings?”

Here are two things that anglers should know about their supposedly “harmless” pastime: Fish can feel pain, and they can experience fear. These facts are no longer in question.

Even though fish don’t scream audibly when they are impaled on hooks, their behavior offers evidence of their suffering. When biologist Victoria Braithwaite and her colleagues exposed fish to irritating chemicals, the animals behaved as any of us might: They lost their appetite, their gills beat faster, and they rubbed the affected area of their bodies against the side of the tank.

A study in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science found that fish who are exposed to painful heat later show signs of fear and wariness – suggesting that they both experience pain and remember it.

Other studies have shown that fish communicate distress when nets are dipped into their tanks or they are otherwise threatened. Researcher William Tavolga, for example, found that not only do fish grunt when they receive an electric shock, they also begin to grunt as soon as they see the electrode, in anticipation of the painful experience to follow.

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada concluded that fish feel fear when they are chased and that their behavior is more than simply a reflex. The “fish are frightened and … they prefer not being frightened,” says Dr. Ian Duncan, who headed the study.

Now think about what all this means. Try to put yourself in the fish’s place. When fish are impaled on an angler’s hook and yanked out of the water, panicking and gasping for breath, they aren’t having a good time. It’s not a game to them. They are scared and in pain and fighting for their lives.

Anglers may not want to hear this, but fishing is nothing more than a cruel blood sport, and killing animals for pleasure – just so that someone can set a world record or pose for a silly photo with a corpse – is inexcusable. It’s time to stop pretending that it’s “good, clean fun” to engage in an activity in which most of the participants aren’t even participating willingly but are, instead, desperately struggling in vain to stay alive.

Moore is a senior writer for the PETA Foundation.

Anti-fishing column nonsense

As an avid fisherwoman married to an avid fisherman and mother to two avid fisher-boys, I just had to write my first-ever letter in response to the Paula Moore opinion column in the June 1 Forum.

If I understand correctly, we are not supposed to fish because it hurts the fishies. I do not discredit the facts presented but, honestly, why someone would test fish for pain tolerance leaves me scratching my head. And I see Moore did not bring the smack-down on those “researchers.” But what of those of us who fish to eat? Are we now required to not fish to eat because it hurts the fish? And is the next step worrying about the feelings of the cows and chickens and pigs?

Good grief. Has she not heard of the circle of life? If we are now supposed to worry about the feelings of fish, then it is nothing but downhill from here – to the dock, to the lake, to the boat to fish.