Green Fishing - Sailors for the Sea

Green Fishing

Observe responsible fishing practices to lessen your impact on fish populations and the surrounding aquatic environment. 

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Most anglers observe responsible fishing practices to lessen the impact on fish populations and to ensure that they are protected for the future.

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The following are a few recommendations to help protect the aquatic environment and its inhabitants:

Check your local rules. 

Learn about the local fish species size and bag limit regulations, and purchase a fishing license, if needed for the region. Only keep fish you intend to eat. 

Choose your tackle wisely.

Try barbless hooks as they reduce the amount of handling needed to remove the hook. If using bait, use a circle hook as they have been shown to increase the survival of released fish.

Try to keep your fight time short.

Long fight times can cause exhaustion and make the fish vulnerable to injury and to predators. 

Handle fish with care to minimize stress and harm.

Use clean, wet hands when handling a fish as this protects their mucous and scales which helps prevents the fish from infection. Always hold a fish so it is well supported, and if you need to weigh it, use a cradle scale. Holding a fish by the eyes, lips or gills can cause irreparable damage. Minimize the length of time the fish is out of water to seconds, not minutes.

Try to gently release fish without damage.

Use a dehooker if you can see the hook. This helps maintain the mucous layer on the fish. If you cannot see the hook, cut the line as close to the hook as possible. Most fish are able to reject the hook, or the hook will dissolve over time. If you take the fish out of the water, make sure it goes headfirst back into the water to help it breathe.

Protect the ecosystem.

Use fish-cleaning stations and discard fish waste in regular trash or save fish waste to use as chum or bait. Do not throw fish waste into swimming areas, marinas, anchorages, shellfish beds or other areas of high recreational use. Unused bait, tackle or any other trash should be disposed of properly.

Recycle monofilament (single strand, strong and flexible plastic) fishing line.  

Marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and birds are injured or killed by entanglement or ingestion. Divers and swimmers are also at risk from entanglement and line can damage boat propellers. Much of this debris is cause by accidental breaks from lines snapping or rock snagging, so always try to recover your line if possible. 

Prevent ghost fishing or cleanup abandoned fishing gear.

Derelict fishing equipment, often referred to as “ghost gear,” is any discarded, lost, or abandoned fishing gear in the marine environment. It will continue to trap, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat and act as a hazard to navigation. 

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Did you know?

  • Monofilament fishing line is not biodegradable and takes over 600 years to breakdown (U.S. National Park Service).
  • Some tackle shops and marinas run a monofilament recycling program. If your shop doesn’t, you can send it directly to Pure Fishing America (Berkley), 1900 18th Street, Spirit Lake, IA 51360-1041 for recycling.