It is not uncommon these days to read stories about overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices. Admittedly it is a huge problem that we have to find solutions for. As consumers many of us are choosing to reduce our seafood intake and support well-managed, sustainable fisheries.
A story you may not read to often though is that there are ways we can increase conservation through participation. Yes, we can help conserve and protect our waterways and other natural places and the wildlife that lives there through: fishing licenses, boat registrations, fishing gear purchases and boat fuel sales. How can this be? Don’t these these detract from or “take away” from our natural spaces. Actually no, it doesn’t have to be that way. Proponents of fishing, and boating (and an other outdoor recreational activities like hunting) often do not realize how much money is funneled to these wild spaces through the activities they oppose. Money spent on the pursuit of these sports and activities is what pays to conserve and protect our wild spaces and waterways.
If you like to say that you need to put your money where your mouth is…well, your money needs to take you boating and fishing!
The sale of fishing licenses and boat registrations contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to aquatic conservation efforts every year. In fact 100% of funds generated from fishing licenses goes towards conservation. 1.5 billion is contributed to fisheries conservation annually by anglers and boaters. All of that money means better fishing and boating experiences because the money is funneled towards management, research, education, access, and fish stocking.
Since recreational fishing and boating is funneling millions of dollars towards conservation it only makes sense that families might want to include more of these activities in their leisure time. It is also a great way to get exercise, enjoy nature and outdoor spaces (no nature deficit disorder), and teach kids how to be protect fish and water resources. Getting kids out there on the water is a great teacher!
Things we might teach the next generation of boaters and anglers:
- Clean boating – Avoiding small spills during refueling and routine boat maintenance.
- Keeping marinas clean – Using less caustic or toxic products for boat maintenance.
- Do not litter and never ignore litter when you see it – We all need to do our part when we see garbage along our waterways.
- Use safer angling products such as lead free sinkers, biodegradable bait, barbless hooks, etc.
- Never keep more fish than you can use.
- Effective ways to catch and release without stressing the fish.
- Tread lightly. Leave an area better than you found it.
- Know and follow fishing laws. They are there for the protection of the fish and waterways.
- Avoid shallow waters, shorelines, wetlands, reefs or breeding areas where our encroachment may cause harm.
- Engage in local conservation projects and activities.
Conservation values are developed by encouraging children to interact with nature. With this interaction and exposure they are more likely to develop a conservation ethic, volunteer, recycle, and participate in recreational outdoor activities as adults. So not only can fishing help with conservation efforts through participation it can also help you raise healthy, well adjusted children. It’s a win-win all around.
To get started planning more boating and fishing adventures with your family check out Take Me Fishing. It is a great resource for all things boating and fishing and can help you get started with fishing locations, licenses, and so much more. Explore articles and videos on how to fish, how to tie fishing knots and proper catch and release.
Also look into making boating and fishing a part of your next family vacation. Take Me Fishing has partnered with Disney for instance, to provide fishing and boating adventures during your next Disney vacation. As I mentioned in my article on green family vacations at Disney, I participated in two fishing opportunities at Disney…cane pole fishing at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—Riverside and Guided Bass Fishing Excursions on a 21-foot Tracker pontoon at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. You can read more about the Disney partnership here.
Lastly, peruse this infographic that shows exactly how money spent pursuing boating and fishing goes back into waterways and helps with conservation and protection. Enjoy!