When I first saw the following headline, I feared that this was one more assault on sport fishing by the preservationist movement:
Scientists Want to End Traditional Trophy Fishing of Threatened Species
But that is not the case. In fact, what these researchers are proposing makes a lot of sense.
“The most common method of certifying the size of landed fish is based on mass. But weighing large fish typically requires anglers to transport them to an official land-based weigh station—a method that makes it unlikely that the fish will survive,” says an article at Sciencemag.org.
“In many cases, this means the loss of egg-bearing females, because the females are larger than males in many species. So by killing big fish, the authors note, trophy anglers often remove individuals that are capable of producing the most high-quality larvae and helping depleted populations recover.
“Shifting to length-based records could reduce such mortality, says the research team, led by researchers at the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Anglers could use cameras or smart phones to validate catches and release record fish where possible.”
Additionally, scientists propose this for just 7 percent of the species on the list maintained by the International Game Fish Association. Those are the ones listed as either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
David Shiffman, the study’s lead author and a marine biologist studying shark biology and conservation at the University of Miami, says the analysis was inspired by recent hearings concerning a proposed ban on killing scalloped and great hammerhead sharks in Florida waters— two species listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
“Several anglers said they were opposed to protecting these species, one of which is so depleted that it just became the first species of shark protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, because it would stop them from going for IGFA world records,” he says.