How to practice sustainable sport fishing

24th September 2021 Jack O'Rourke

How to practice sustainable sport fishing

More than most, fishermen are keenly aware of the problems that endanger the environment, as they observe first-hand the effects of pollution, habitat destruction and other damage to marine ecosystems. That is why they are generally very concerned about protecting fish species.

Sport fishermen have a responsibility to ensure fish stocks thrive in their local systems and throughout the world’s seas. Fishing is still a lot of fun, even when done with sustainability in mind.

We care about our oceans and we encourage you to fish in this way. Here are some easy ways to practice sustainable fishing.

Follow Fishing Regulations

One of the key things anglers can do is have knowledge of local and international regulations for fishing for sport.

As a recreational angler, it is your responsibility to know bag limits, size restrictions and restraints on targeted fish populations. These rules and regulations are put in place to maintain healthy fish stocks.

It's important to note that just because there is a limit on how many fish you can take from the water in one go, doesn't mean you always have to reach that limit. Take only what you need. 

Practice Carbon-Conscious Fishing

There are a number of ways anglers can reduce the amount of carbon that is being put into the atmosphere. 

Proper fishing practices and equipment can have a significant impact on an individual's carbon footprint. 

If you choose to venture out on the water, make your boat as efficient as possible. Steps like replacing your propeller to reduce drag, installing an electric motor or engine and monitoring fuel consumption are all great energy-efficient solutions. 

Alternatively, try fishing from a kayak, canoe or paddle-board to eliminate releasing contaminants into the water where you are.  

Practice Catch and Release

We recommend catch and release fishing when possible. This will reduce the impacts on fish populations. Use smart catch and release techniques. 

Improper handling is one of the biggest causes of distress for fish, as they are delicate and sensitive to outside interference. 

When handling fish, proceed with care and wet your hands or use a damp cloth to make sure the fish doesn't lose its protective oils. Don’t hang the fish by the jaw and always have one hand under its stomach. 

Try not to leave the fish out of water for longer than 1-2 minutes before returning it to the water to give the fish the best chance of survival. If the fish swallows the hook and extraction is difficult; cut the line as close as possible to the hook and release the fish. 

Use Appropriate Gear

Make sure your tackle is appropriately matched to your target species to help increase survival rates.

Using tackle that is too light for your target will cause you to fight the fish for prolonged periods of time, greatly increasing the chances of reeling in a fish that is too exhausted to survive upon release.

Don’t fish in water too deep unless you want to kill your catch. The pressure difference kills the fish. 

Lead is toxic, so use lead-free sinkers, split shot and jig heads. There are several good non-toxic fishing tackle alternatives on the market. Consider that lead products can also kill other animals that eat fish that have swallowed lead sinkers.

Reduce Your Bycatch

Unsustainable fishing methods such as bottom trawling and pelagic driftnets catch many species of marine life by accident. Bycatch species are generally not eaten and may include banned species such as birds, turtles and marine mammals that are carelessly thrown back. 

Practising species selection and using the right gear can reduce the chance of unnecessary bycatch. This requires some knowledge of the water and the species you are fishing in. Selecting fish of appropriate size and releasing other fish that will help sustain the fish population.

Remove your Waste

When people leave rubbish along the coasts and in the water it has major environmental consequences. You can do your part by disposing of your litter, fishing tackle and fish waste responsibly. 

Reuse and recycle your fishing tackle or gear whenever possible and dispose of any discarded fishing line you may find to avoid the entanglement of birds and other animals in the area. 

Avoid spilling and dumping pollutants such as fuel, oil or waste into the water.

By following some of these simple steps, it is possible to fish sustainably and preserve our waterways and fish populations at the same time. 

You can find good fishing spots on the Deckee app. Boaters can download the Deckee boating safety app for free on iOS or Android