Finsights #11– When scientists get together to talk fish
A couple weeks ago I attended the 8th World Recreational Fishing Conference in Victoria, BC, Canada. This gathering of 380 people from 22 countries included fisheries scientists, managers, students, and other fishy folk. We spent three and a half days giving and listening to presentations on topics such as citizen science, monitoring and assessment of recreational fisheries, understanding angler behavior, use and challenges of catch-and-release, and engagement of fishers in the management process.
While there was a lot of talk of scientific methodology, statistics, and other topics that could put most anglers to sleep (and has even been known to put fellow scientists to sleep), there were also a number of issues discussed that are relevant and valuable for anglers, especially for those of us that strive to follow KeepEmWet Principles and stay informed about fisheries issues.
There were 33 presentations given in a symposium squarely focused on the use and challenges of catch-and-release in recreational fisheries. A few of the highlights are:
• Deep hooking is the single most important factor influencing the survival of fish. If a fish is deeply hooked, it’s better to cut the line than try to remove the hook.
• The type of net you use matters – size of the mesh as well as the material can influence slime and scale loss, and fin fraying, but there still isn’t a comprehensive review and comparison of net types across a wide range of species.
• Landing steelhead using either a net or tail grab is fine
• Everything we do to fish is magnified at higher water temperatures. For example, while 10 seconds of air exposure may not significantly impact fish when water temps are low, 10 seconds of air exposure at higher water temperatures may be enough to temporarily impair swimming ability.
Angler Engagement and Involvement
Starting with the keynote speakers there was a lot of emphasis on finding ways to interact with and involve anglers in the science and management of recreational fisheries. Ideas ranged from creating interactive apps that provide data to scientists to having anglers guide research needs and creating partnerships where anglers help manage fisheries.
It was encouraging to hear so many different people echoing this sentiment. Stay tuned for the roll out of several new KeepEmWet Science Ambassadors in the coming weeks; scientists who also fish and understand the passion and importance of anglers in making fishing sustainable. With this in mind, our goal is for KeepEmWet Fishing to be a platform for anglers and scientists to connect more directly.
Finally, KeepEmWet Fishing was mentioned in at least eight different presentations (only one of which was by yours truly). It seems that even scientists are starting to pay attention to social media and recognize the value in the KeepEmWet movement ;)
Sascha Clark Danylchuk