Contrary to what many people might believe, anglers are actually helping out a lot with conservation. Sport Fishing or Angling helps environment in ways that most of us are not even aware of! Lots of people tend to give flak to those who enjoy the sport of fishing, but the truth is not only is angling a wonderful and relaxing way to connect with nature and to de-stress, but it also helps the planet become a healthier place. Yes, that is correct – the act of sport fishing is, in fact, very beneficial to the environment.
6 Key Ways in which Angling Helps Environment
1. Source of Revenue for Government and Local Fishermen
In the areas where angling is regulated, anglers are usually required to purchase a license or permit, in addition to also paying special taxes. A certain amount of these funds end up going toward conservation and wildlife programs, causes which tend to get neglected, especially here in India. The more angling picks up, the more funds will be generated through licenses and taxes and the more money can go toward helping our ecosystem – this is a total win-win situation. Also, in locations where angling is not regulated especially in the sea, anglers reach out to local fishermen to act as guides and hire their boats out to the sea. The local fishermen generate extra income and in turn help conserve the bigger fish by releasing them back to the ocean so that these big fish can breed future stocks.
2. Wildlife Management
Angling can act as a critical tool to manage wildlife effectively, thus, helping the environment. Setting seasons and keep limits helps keep various species stable, while allows some species to flourish even further, as well. There are several fish species within India which need immediate attention with regards to conservation including Mahseer and Goonch fish; encouraging angling could certainly help with this as anglers assist in managing fish populations. It will be a shame if beautiful species of fish become extinct due to negligence!
A great example is the Mahseer Trust , which is a UK based body focusing on documentation and conservation of Mahseer fish in India. The organization has members who are anglers both in the UK and India and they work closely with fisheries department, fisheries institutes, scientists to study the population and species of Mahseer in India and identifying threats to them.
3. Angling to Remove the Invasive and Non-native Species
Not all fish needs to be conserved. There are some invasive/non-endemic species which have been introduced to river bodies and they are creating havoc to the native species and threatening their very existence. “Anglers only can remove invasive and predatory species like African catfish from the water body,” said Derek D’Souza, a member of Mahseer Trust. “We help keep water bodies clean,” he further added in an interview in The Hindu. Here is an article where Anglers were asked to remove invasive catfish from Maryland, Virginia waters. Though it would be impossible to remove the non-native species completely through angling, it works wonderfully to keep these species in check.
4. Improving Habitats and Documentation
“World over and in India, anglers catch fish and release it back after making note of its growth and problems, if any,” pointed out D’Souza. “Anglers have been associated with the study on fish taken up by universities and other research organizations.” Such documentation is essential in understanding our water bodies and how they are evolving; furthermore, by examining fish in different locations, one can observe the quality of water through the amount of healthy and sick fish present.
Besides documentation, angling helps the environment by improving the fisheries by leaps and bounds – both by adding fish attractors and releasing various fish species, in particular, in certain locations that require it manually. A good example is the Maharashtra State Angling Association (MSSA), which undertakes the quite a few activities to ensure the protection of Mumbai’s Powai lake environment, for eg. water analysis, removal of water hyacinth infestation, supporting research with Fisheries department, restocking the lake with fish every year, augmented security against poachers etc,=. This, in turn, helps in keeping the Powai ecosystem rich with not only fish but also other wildlife like birds and the crocodiles.
5.Reporting Illegal Fishing Methods and Poaching
Anglers deter poachers from creating havoc in the water bodies. Just the anglers’ sheer presence deters poachers from using illegal methods like dynamiting, poisoning and electrocuting the fish. There are times when poachers become more aggressive and any such activities are reported by Anglers to the concerned authorities.
A recent example was an attack of poachers on Angler Ali Hussaini in the Powai lake when he tried to stop them for illegal fishing in the lake. The matter was reported and the police later investigated the same. You can also read about the incident in this article published by one of the leading newspaper.
At times, Anglers even become protectors. Very recently a group of Mumbai anglers who were angling near the Konkan coast forced a fishing trawler using the illegal and banned ‘purse siene’ nets to release all their catch back in the ocean. Use of purse siene nets have been banned in India and around the world for the destructive fishing that happens with it.
6.Create Awareness and Promoting “Catch and Release”
The All India Game Fish Association (AIGFA) is an active body led by top anglers in India, with a charter to promote ethical angling in India. They have a Facebook group which has over 5000 anglers in India as its members. The body has set rules for posting catch pictures in its group page like the fish should be near the water and there should not be any damage to the fish. It actively brings out white papers on conservation and works with government bodies and local angling groups to promote catch and release and spreading awareness about ethical angling.
Indeed, angling has tremendous benefits on conservation and improving our water bodies as ecosystems. Virgina Department of Game & Inland Fisheries summarizes it the best, “Anglers put their money where their mouth is and are passionate about the environment. They are also acutely aware of the importance of clean water and air and pride themselves on protecting and preserving our environment, natural communities, and valuable habitat”.
Here is a video on River conservation and awareness activities carried out in 2014 by Indian anglers and members of Mahseer Trust.
So, go ahead and take some time out of your busy schedule to go fishing. Practice ethical angling and catch and release and you’ll not only be helping the environment but also will reap many personal benefits ranging from stress relief and burning calories to experiencing adventure, unwinding outside of your busy, hectic work life.
More on ethical angling and fish conservation:
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