Preserve Your Passion
Recreational angling is an activity enjoyed by millions of people across the world and is one of the oldest and most popular forms of outdoor recreation. South Africa alone has an estimated 850 000 rock and surf anglers and 1735 registered light tackle boats (Leibolt, 2008). But all this enjoyment hasn’t come without a cost… “Recreational angling affects the structure and function of fish populations and potentially entire aquatic ecosystems” (Lewin, 2008.)
Despite a large portion of recreational anglers believing that they have no negative impact on marine ecosystems or fish populations and who, more often than not, shift the blame to commercial fisheries or the Chinese trawlers (that’s a whole other story)….it’s about time some responsibility was taken.
Over the last decade, increased research and management of recreational fisheries has clearly indicated that by no means are recreational anglers free of responsibility – “the main biological impacts include changes in the size and age structures in populations or communities, biomass reduction, loss of genetic diversity, changes in trophic cascades and habitat degradation” (Lewin, 2008).
However, there are plenty of conscious and ethical anglers out there who do their best to look after and protect our natural environment. ‘Ethical angling’ is a relatively new approach to fishing – it is a movement of understanding, appreciating and respecting the fish one catches and the natural environment one is fishing in.
Ethical anglers don’t only obey regulations and catch limits but also show a deep seated interest and passion for the fish they catch and familiarise themselves with the workings of various ecosystems. They make a strong effort to practice the best handling techniques and will always minimise the fish’s exposure to air and stress. Ethical anglers are concerned about the well-being of the natural environment and proactively try to minimise any negative impact on it.
Catch and release
Catch and release is by far the most sustainable form of recreational fishing. “Current catch-and-release practices are still certainly better for fish populations than not releasing the fish at all” (Anna Funk, 2018). However, to ensure high survival rates of released fish, it is vital for anglers to diligently practice the best angling ethics. Anglers must practice excellent handling techniques (wet hands and use of mat), limit air exposure to 30 seconds and use nonintrusive gear (eg. circle hooks).
Why should you tag and release?
Voluntary angler-based tagging programs have become increasingly popular over the years and have added substantial benefit to fisheries research and the management of marine ecosystems. Tagging fish helps to obtain valuable data such as their movement, age, growth rate and migratory patterns, just to name a few.
OCEANOGRAPHIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE’S
Co-operative fish tagging project
is a South African based, long-term collaborative marine environmental project. “The overall aim of ensuring the wise and sustainable use of Southern Africa’s marine linefish resources. It involves the voluntary cooperation of conservation-conscious anglers (i.e. anglers who voluntarily tag and release fish they catch) and the marine angling public at large who report the majority of the recaptures (i.e. a fish that is re-caught with a tag in it)” (SAAMBR, 2020).