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The Connection Between Fishing & The Environment by Jetski Outfitters

Did you know that Anglers play an important role in protecting and conserving the aquatic environment? Many people believe they act as custodians of the waters they fish. 

According to a recent article, “It was American ecologist Aldo Leopold who said 'harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.” Angling and the environment go hand-in-hand. As one man put it: a flourishing aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem is synonymous with good fishing.

Why we need to protect the aquatic environment

The need for environmental protection has never been greater. Human activities impact our freshwater and marine environments daily. Rivers, lakes and streams are constantly threatened from agricultural run-off to invasive species and much more.

Rivers flow through agricultural land and inhabited areas, making them particularly vulnerable to accumulate more and more pollutants. The marine environment is under threat as well as commercial over-fishing decimates fish stocks and more.

Angling and conservation (as paraphrased from Robert MacDougall-Davis)

Anglers play an important role in protecting and conserving the aquatic environment. Here’s an example: Two fly fisherman in Cambridgeshire noticed, for the first time in Britain, the presence of a highly invasive and ecologically damaging killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) darting through the shallows of Grafham Water reservoir. Relevant authorities were alerted and rapid steps were taken by anglers, scientist and other parties to contain this problematic crustacean before it spreads.

According to MacDougall-Davis, “while the killer shrimp may be bad news, the presence of some invertebrates is very good news. Aquatic invertebrates are extremely sensitive to pollution, which is a good indicator of water quality.”

MacDougall-Davis, continues, “Much of the fisheries research in Britain is stimulated by concerned anglers and fisheries scientists who seek to find answers to key environmental questions. One such question is why have Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations plummeted throughout their range over the past few decades?”

The scientific evidence suggests the decline is due to a combination of factors ranging from parasite infestations, arising from the dirty business of some salmon farming, to barriers to fish migration, habitat loss and water quality issues. Anglers have played a key role in the conservation effort by helping to collect data among other things.

Some individual anglers have gone to extreme lengths to save the Atlantic salmon. Reports over the last decade show Orri Vigfussen, Founder and Chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, is one such angler. He has saved in the region of 5.5 million Atlantic salmon if not more.

Sadly, despite the substantial conservation effort, the latest research paints a gloomy picture for ‘The King of Fish'. Atlantic salmon are anadromous; they live in the sea and migrate to freshwater to spawn. Research suggests that rising ocean temperatures are re-distributing zooplankton and nekton, an important part of a salmon's diet, to more northerly latitudes. This has serious implications for juvenile salmon, for they now have to travel much further on their perilous journey from freshwater to their feeding grounds resulting in a rise in marine mortality.

The future of the Atlantic salmon is unclear, but one thing is certain; without the conservation efforts of anglers, scientists, environmental organizations and many volunteers, our fisheries and aquatic environments would be in a much worse state.

An angler’s take on species preservation

Anglers preserve the fish they seek and the aquatic environment. Not only do anglers want to improve their catches, they recognize the inherent non-monetary value of preserving the natural world. Most anglers develop an almost spiritual respect for their quarry and conscientiously follow conservation guidelines as recommended by fishery scientists. For example, responsible sea anglers, carefully return all bass below 36cm in length to ensure they spawn at least once before they end up in the pot.

Be the difference

We all make choices on a daily basis that influence the environment. There are ways that everyone can do their part to make a difference when it comes to our aquatic ecosystems. Many of the things that we flush down our drains, such as phosphate in washing powder, threaten the aquatic environment. Phosphate is the limiting factor for growth in many plants and is not always successfully removed by sewage treatment works. By simply using phosphate free ecological washing powder and dishwasher tablets you are directly contributing to improving water quality in your local area.

Another way anglers and non-anglers alike can help improve the marine and freshwater environment is to pick up litter and report any signs of pollution, such as fish-kills or chemical spillages, to the appropriate environmental authority ecosystem as a whole.