We realize that sometimes, after a long fight, you do occasionally lose a fish. We’ve not lost one yet (knock on wood) but we’re sure at some point we will. We get it. It happens. What we don’t get is anglers who string these big beauties up by their tails for all to see. If we lost a marlin during a fight we certainly wouldn’t bring it back to the dock let alone brag about it by stringing it up for show! This is just bad business in more ways than one.
First of all, it saddens conservationists and environmental activists like ourselves. We think most avid sportfishing anglers will agree that they don’t like to see it either…that’s one less fish in the sea for us to catch and release and catch again. We believe the biggest impact is the picture that’s painted for non-anglers, those not involved in the fishing community. It gives them reason to believe that sportfishermen (and women) are cold hard killers out to catch and kill everything in the sea – and that’s not only far from the truth but also bad for business.
There has been a great shift in how we as anglers look at our marine life. Sure, ten or twenty years ago it was acceptable to kill marlin and brag about it, but not anymore. With entire species vanishing and stocks depleting we have a responsibility to look after our catch. There are many fantastic organisations out there working tirelessly, giving us the right platform to do so. We have a great relationship with The Billfish Foundation and are big advocates for them. We’ve talked about them many times before and how we tag and release for them. They do a lot more than just tagging fish. They use this data to for policy making which allows the big guys to make decisions relating to legislation protecting our stocks. Getting involved with these organisations is a step in the right direction.
Another step in the right direction would be adjusting your own fishing practices to ensure a marlin can be released, alive, after a long fight. As we said, sometimes they get so exhausted they can’t be revived, but there are some steps you can take to try and minimize those odds. The biggest point we try to make is keeping the fish in the water. They are better OFF the boat!!! You can still get that bad a$$ photo op with the fish in the water, trust us – we have loads of them! So next time you’re on a fishing charter and you catch a marlin or a sail, request that your crew keep them in the water. Taking them out can stress the fish and injure them. They also have a delicate slime on their skin that protects them and pulling them on board can destroy this leaving the fish vulnerable. Bringing a fish on board is also dangerous for you! Those bills are sharp and a thrashing marlin can do some serious damage to you, the boat and itself!
Getting involved and being a more ‘environmentally friendly’ angler will keep us fishing for the next hundred and allow those non-anglers to get the real picture of what it means to be a sportfisherman (or woman)!