Category Archives: Fishing

Will grey seals counteract cod recovery in the Baltic Sea?

Grey seals and cod used to be found in great abundance throughout the Baltic Sea, but today the seals are chiefly present in the northern parts of the sea while the cod is found in the south.

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Hilton stops serving sailfish and marlin in Costa Rica

Four Hilton Worldwide hotels in Costa Rica have pledged to stop serving sailfish and marlin after entering into an agreement with the Billfish Foundation (TBF) and the Costa Rica Sport Fishing Federation (FECOPT).

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China Releases 1.3 Billion Fish into Yangtze River

Last week, 1.3 billion fish were released into the Yangtze River by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). The release took place in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangsu in the middle and lower reaches of the river.

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Fish taxidermy & Catch and Release


sailfish - popular game fish

When the practice of catch and release was introduced, a lot of anglers were upset. How can you preserve your memorable trophy catches if you aren’t allowed to bring it home? Today, the trend has shifted – a lot of sport fishers love catch and release since it has boosted fish populations and allowed more anglers to catch larger specimens. Also, the conundrum about how to mount a released fish has been solved, thanks to modern fish taxidermy.

Today, there is no need to bring your fish to the taxidermist to have it mounted. Instead, you contact one of the many fish taxidermists that specializes in fish replicas and provide them with as much details as possible about your catch, e.g. species, sex, length and weight. If you have a photograph of the fish, this will also be helpful.

The fish taxidermist will take that information and use it to create a lifelike fish replica, typically from fiber glass. The replica will then be painstakingly painted to look as much as your catch as possible. If you hire a highly skilled fish taxidermist, a replica like this can actually be even more lifelike than the stuffed skin of a dead fish can ever hope to achieve.

To get a fish preserved has always been expensive. With the advent of modern fish replicas, a new option has become available for anglers on a budget. Instead of having a replica crafted and painted to look exactly like your catch, you can send in details about size and species and get a high-quality ready-made fish replica as a tribute to your trophy catch. This is much less expensive, and if you order from a top-notch producer you will get a replica that really looks like a living specimen of that particular species.

Fish taxidermy has also become greener during recent years when it comes to the actual preservation process. The greenest alternative is of course to go for a fish replica since that requires not preservation at all, but if you really want to have an actual fish stuffed and mounted it is today possible to find fish taxidermists that will carry out the process using a minimum of toxins. Earlier, being a taxidermist was quite a dangerous occupation since a lot of toxic compounds were used to ward off decay, such as the infamous arsenic soap. Arsenic is highly toxic and can be fatal, even in small amounts. Doses too small to cause acute symptoms can still lead to long-term problems such as cancer. The tannins used to preserve the color of the skins were also frequently dangerous, for the tanner as well as for the environment. Even though the taxidermy field has a long way to go yet, significant improvements have been achieved during the last few decades, especially in countries were more stringent occupational and environmental laws have been enacted.

Fake seagrass help us learn how to save dwindling fish populations

Red snapper

Red snapper

A large amount of New Zealand’s seagrass have been killed by sediments released from land development. The seagrass bed at Whangarei Harbour has for instance been reduced from 14 sq km in the 1960s to virtually non-existant today. And sedimentation this is not a new problem – between 1959 and 1966 Tauranga Harbour lost 90 per cent of its seagrass.

Researchers at New Zealands’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research are now fitting the floor of the Whangapoua Estuary with plastic seagrass in an attempt to show how New Zealand’s fish stocks could be boosted by restoring the seagrass habitats. The “seagrass” consists of plastic fronds attached to wire frames, and the length of the fronds varies from 5 cm to 30 cm.

“We made them with tantalising long blades of artificial grass, the things fish really go for,” says NIWA fisheries ecologist Dr Mark Morrison. “What we found, initially, is that fish are really looking for shelter and seagrasses provide good protection to fish.”

The largest density of fish could be found where the density of seagrass was also at its largest.

Fish is now being tagged to make it possible for the researchers to track both growth rate and survival rate.

405.2 Pound Yellowfin Tuna Largest Ever Reeled In!


Yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares

A rather large motley group of people gathered round to meet the Vagabond Monday morning to feast their eyes on a whopper of a yellowfin tuna – one that weighed in at 405.2 pounds!

Mike Livingston, an angler hailing from Sunland, California, reeled in this amazing fish. It was sixty-one and a half inches wide and it was an astonishing eighty-five and three quarters inches long.

This catch, made on hundred pound test line after wrestling for over two hours, is due to be submitted to the International Game Fish Association to get it approved as an all-tackle record.

Captain Mike Lackey has commented that the IGFA rules were adhered to, so this amazing catch will out-shadow the previous record, a three hundred eighty-eight pounder, which has not been beaten since 1977.

“When the scale hit that number it was like the Super Bowl here,” explains Livingston – who also happens to be a retired school administrator – referring to yells of congratulations from a group of two hundred spectators, who were there to take in the weigh-in.

He was so tired out from battling this beast that he only caught one tuna more the entire trip out.

Lackey had first guessed that the weight of the tuna was somewhere around three-hundred and ninety pounds, utilizing a tape-measure formula which is not always all too accurate. He proceeded to freeze the tuna to help keep it fresh for the journey home.

You can imagine his surprise when he got the whopper onto the scales and it topped over four hundred pounds!

Congratulations Mr. Livingston!

International Accord Fails: BlueFin Tuna In Dire Straights Due to Overfishing


Yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna did not accept the idea of reducing fishing of the Atlantic bluefin, whose populations have been declining for the past few decades from fishing pressure and, who could forget, the BP oil spill fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico. With the bluefin heading towards certain doom, the Center for Biological Diversity in May called for more protection, and invoked the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The decision to not reduce the international catch quotas by the commission means that the survival of the bluefin is riding very heavily on the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“The international tuna commission had an opportunity to take bluefin tuna off the path to extinction but didn’t. Instead, the commission ignored years of scientific evidence about the perilous decline of bluefin tuna and chose to allow fishing to continue as if nothing is wrong,” commented a staff attorney at the Center, Catherine Kilduff.

Ever since 1969, when the international commission first came into being, the bluefin tuna – which was once very abundant – has been fished almost to the point of being extinct. The commission has set 2011 catch quotas of 12,900 tons, and 1,750 tons for the two different stocks of bluefin tuna: the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic stock and the western Atlantic stock. The quotas have dipped a little, but not enough. They came down from 13,500 tons and 1,800 tons respectively. That is a step in the right direction, but not enough to help the bluefin regain a toehold in the world.

“This level of fishing pressure sentences bluefin tuna to yet another decade of depletion,” Kilduff explained. “The fishing quotas adopted today bank on overly optimistic conditions for tuna recovery so that fishermen can continue to catch the prized bluefin tuna as they have in past years. As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows, bluefin face more threats than just fishing.”

Widely Accepted Indicator of Fisheries Health Questioned; “Humans Don’t Appear To Be Fishing Down the Food Web”

Spanish Fishing boat

The most widely accepted method of being able to determine the health of the world’s oceans and fisheries led to inaccurate conclusions in almost fifty percent of the ecosystems where it was utlilized.

This new analysis was done by an international group of fisheries researchers, and has been published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature.

“Applied to individual ecosystems it’s like flipping a coin; half the time you get the right answer and half the time you get the wrong answer,” explained a University of Washington aquatic and fisheries researcher, Trevor Branch.

“Monitoring all the fish in the sea would be an enormous, and impossible, task,” explains a program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, Henry Gholz, whose department helped to fund the research with NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences.

“This study makes clear that the most common indicator, average catch trophic level, is a woefully inadequate measure of the status of marine fisheries.”

Back in 1998, the journal Science released a groundbreaking report that was the first to utilize trends in the trophic levels of fish which were reeled in to help figure out the health of world fisheries.

The trophic level of an organism indicates where it falls in the different food chains, with microscopic algae at a trophic level of one and large predatory creatures – such as sharks, halibut and tuna – at a trophic level of about four.

This 1998 report relied on forty years of catch data, and took the average of the trophic levels of those specimens which were caught.

Fishing is Permitted in Ninety-Nine Percent of Pacific Coast of Canada’s Marine Protected Areas

Fishing is permitted in ninety-nine percent of Marine Protected Areas – also known as MPA – on the Pacific coast of Canada, so says a report put out by Living Oceans Society and released in Marine Policy this month. It is rather interesting that the fishing is permitted, given the fact that over fifty percent of the MPAs are labeled as “strictly prohibited” and are specifically set up to stop all fishing.

“Marine Protected Areas should be safe havens where species can regenerate, but the great majority of our MPAs are really just paper parks that offer almost nothing in the way of ocean conservation or sustainable fisheries,” explains Living Oceans Society’s Marine Planning and Protected Areas Campaign Manager, Kim Wright.

In order for the MPAs to be effective, the municipal and provincial government agencies that set up MPAs need to make sure that the fishing closures are actually put in place by DFO – Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Sadly, all levels of government are failing to get together and actually give any kind of real protection to the ecosystem of the ocean.

The study was carried out by Dr. Isabelle Cote, a Marine Protected Area specialist, and also a professor at Simon Fraser University. The study reveals that we really need to be protecting the oceans, however, that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon…

As Dr Isabelle Cote sums up: “Marine reserves, in which no fishing is permitted, increase the abundance and diversity of marine life within their boundaries. This study shows that the MPAs on Canada’s Pacific coast are less likely to show the same positive effects.”

Buzz Continues to Build Surrounding Theory That Volcano Cause Boom in Salmon Population

Salmon fry

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the speculation, which was tossed around this week, that a volcanic eruption on an Alaskan island back in 2008 is somehow responsible for the boom in the salmon population this year in the rivers of British Columbia in Canada.

If this speculation proves to be correct, it will help biologist’s to shed some new light on the rather unpredictable sizes of the populations of salmon year in and year out. It will also lend credence to the controversial idea of seeding the oceans of the world with iron to help lend a helping hand to other fish species, who have seen a decline in their populations. However, some scientists, who were contacted by Nature, have cautioned that the theory is “far fetched”.

After the salmon population took a nose dive back in 2009, the sockeye salmon made a big comeback in British Columbia’s Fraser River this year. It has been suggested that the reasoning behind this is that the iron in the ash from the volcanic eruption on Kasatochi island, which created a rather huge influx of phytoplankton, may have indirectly provided the salmon with the food they needed to stage a miraculous comeback. This suggestion was made by Tim Parsons, a prominent Canadian scientist, and has a government-awarded medal named after him for ocean scientists.

It looks like he may be getting yet another feather in his hat, if the scientific community chooses to explore this theory further. If its possible to refurnish fish stocks around the globe by seeding the ocean with some iron, we should take the opportunity.