Guy Harvey Magazine

FALL 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 57 of 83

58 | Conservation isn't a contemporary concept, but it certainly has driven fisheries management regulations after the turn of the 20th century. Back in the day, there were no regulations. I remember looking through old black and white pictures from the 1920s showing hundreds of striped bass hanging on iron pins tacked to lumber beams and stacked on the dock from a day's surfcasting. The "catch and release" philosophy that many anglers take for granted nowadays was pretty much an unknown concept back then. It was more about catching and keeping as many fish as you could—for sustenance, for bragging rights, for leisure, or a combination of all three—but oh how times have changed. Many factors now contribute to fisheries regulation in this day and age, sadly with profits now a main driver in the commercial fisheries realm. But I would like to think the overarching desire for conservation to preserve and protect fish stocks is the true meaning behind recreational anglers' motives. As a recreational angler, I believe we are the leading promoters of fisheries conservation efforts, as the majority of fishermen hold an innate love for the fish, the lifestyle and the sport of fishing. We want to see sustainable stocks to continue engaging in that enjoyment. Catch and release was probably the first conservation measure instituted into the recreational fishing community—to be able to release a fish for someone else to catch again. Conservation allows for self- perpetuation of the fish and the sport of fishing, and anglers do understand that premise. We like to protect the things that bring us joy. But the government itself plays a big role in helping to conserve fish stocks. The very first agency devoted exclusively to conservation, the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, was formed in 1871 with a mission "dedicated to the protection, study, management and restoration of fish." This commission eventually turned into the Bureau of Fisheries in 1903. Sometime around the 1920s or so came more governmental influence in the form of size restrictions and bag limits to ensure stocks were not being decimated beyond repair. And for once, governmental influence was a good thing, as it was a system to keep natural flow of fish stocks sustainable. That government influence most certainly worked well in the days of old, but nowadays it seems to be getting more complicated by the day. It's an inevitable conclusion that all regulations, recreational and commercial, are intertwined. Take the striped bass stocks in the Northeast. Throughout the 1970s, legal commercial netting for bass decimated stocks almost to extinction. As a recreational angler, I can tell you that if you ever caught a striper in the Jersey surf during the mid-'80s, it was like finding the rainbow unicorn. Eventually, from 1984 to 1989, a moratorium on striper fishing was instituted on spawning grounds of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, allowing striper stocks to procreate and eventually recover to stunning successes by the late 1990s. That is conservation law at its finest. But it shouldn't have to come to a near collapse of a species to enact smart regulatory mandates based on proper scientific data. Simply put, there are too many humans interested in the food value, sport and profits of fish, and fishing not to have any governmental regulation, or THE WHYS OF REGULATIONS BY NICK HONACHEFSKY

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