Anglers are losing access to their favorite fisheries.
Sometimes, it’s because of development or budget cuts. Other times it’s because government bodies or even private groups have shut down public launch areas.
The latter is happening with increasing frequency because of a fear that invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil will be accidentally introduced via contaminated boats and trailers. Sometimes the concern is legitimate. Other times, it’s simply an excuse to keep out the public.
This threat has grown so severe that one in five anglers surveyed by AnglerSurvey.com reported having to cancel or quit fishing a particular location in 2011 because they lost access to it. Most were able to shift their fishing to another location, but a third of affected anglers said that the loss caused them to quite fishing altogether.
“While access issues can often be overcome by fishing somewhere else, we are still losing some anglers each year due to problems with fishing access,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which conducts the surveys at AnglerSurvey.com.
“When we add up the anglers lost year after year, whether as a result of marine fishery closures or dilapidated boat ramps, access remains a major long-term problem for sportfishing and fisheries conservation.”
You can help slow down this loss of access and possibly even reverse the trend.
First, be a responsible angler by making certain that you do not allow invasive species to hitchhike on your boat and/or trailer, and encourage others to do the same. When fishermen set good examples, those in power have less reason to try to deny access. Additionally, if you belong to a fishing club, encourage it to work cooperatively with lake associations and government bodies on plans to keep out invasive species.
Also, familiarize yourself with access issues, both locally and nationally. Attend public meetings when access issues are on the agenda. Write letters, send e-mails, and make phone calls to officials, emphasizing that quality access is important.
Solution: Make sure you leave every area better than you found it, be committed and vocal about preventing the spread of invasive species, and get involved locally so that angler interests are represented when decisions on access are made.
Check out five more threats facing fishing at Recycled Fish.