Make wise use of resources

Published 6:42 pm Saturday, July 28, 2012

To the Editor:

Public comments for the Finfish Committee Hearing.

I am a commercial fisherman who is deeply troubled by the amount of seafood being killed and wasted through Regulatory Discards. Tons of perfectly edible fish are being discarded because they do not meet the arbitrarily high size limits.

Fishermen are forced to discard more fish than we can keep at times. The original intent of size limits was to give each fish a chance to breed once. Since then size limits have been increased to stop fishermen from keeping so much of what they catch rather than allowing possession limits to do their job. Here are a few examples of why the fish, fishermen, and consumers would be better off without size limits.

  1. Size limits force fishermen to target the breeding stock while leaving a glut of runts to pollute the gene pool. This negatively impacts the overall health of a stock and the average size of the fish in it.
  2. Size limits deny consumers access to tons of seafood that dies after being discarded.
  3. Size limits require fishermen to hold a struggling fish firm enough to remove up to nine barbed hooks before it is measured. The fish are deprived of oxygen while their protective slime is wiped off and vital organs are damaged before being discarded if they are too short or too long in some cases. The first rule of ethical catch and release fishing is to leave the fish in the water and handle it as little as possible.

Fish are a renewable source of healthy food and should be managed as such. We can enjoy the sport of catching them and profit from selling them to consumers while limiting waste, feeding more people, and protecting stocks for future generations. Please think about these questions with an open mind.

  1.  Is there a level of discard mortality you would not support?
  2. Would you support size limit discards if you had to witness the wounded fish slowly dying?
  3. Would you support this kind of waste and abuse of wildlife on land?
  4. Do you believe fish are delicious and nutritious food or do you view them more as toys?
  5. Are you willing to support the solutions below to reduce the amount of dead discards?

Remove all size limits or at least revert back to size limits that are no longer than is required for a fish to breed once. Allow a minimum of one fish and up to 10 percent of licensed fishermen’s catch to be under or oversized so they can keep illegal fish that are wounded to the point they are likely to die. Our fisheries should be managed with quotas and possession limits rather than wasteful and abusive size limits. We need to learn from past management mistakes and fix the problems rather than adding to them. We need to make wise use of the resources God gave us and use them as He intended, as food.

Morehead City