5 Ways to Fish Responsibly

Way 1: Handle with Care

Proper handling techniques help minimize harm to the fish you release.
Proper handling techniques help minimize harm to the fish you release.
Chase Jarvis/Photodisc/Getty Images

The final tip for responsible fishing deals with what you actually catch. If you're play­ing for keeps, remember to limit your catch only to the fish you will actually use. Ideally, only hold onto the small or medium-sized ones so the more mature fish can spawn again and replenish the population.

If you're interested in catching and releasing, do the fish a favor and handle them as gently as possible. Use barbless hooks to minimize damage, hold the fish as little as possible, avoid touching their gills and removing protective slime, and reel them in and return them to the water quickly (to avoid exhausting them). If you hook a fish deeply, don't risk unnecessary harm by trying to get it out -- simply clip the line and let the fish go.

By following each of the five tips in this article, you'll not only help the environment, but you'll also ensure good fishing grounds for years to come.


Relat­ed HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • ­Cooke, Steven J. and Ian G. Cowx. "The Role of Recreational Fishing in Global Fish Crises." BioScience. September 2004. Vol. 54, No. 9.
  • "Dishes of Destruction -- the hidden costs of seafood." World Wildlife Fund. (Nov. 3, 2008)http://www.wwf.org.uk/search_results.cfm?uNewsID=2061
  • "Fishing Responsibly." Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (Nov. 3, 2008)http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/recfish/KeyPoints/fishingresponsibly_e.htm
  • "Fishing Responsibly in New York State." New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. (Nov. 3, 2008)http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9223.html
  • "For Recreational Fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico." Environmental Defense Fund. Oct. 1, 2007. (Nov. 3, 2008)http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1546
  • Karlstrom, Solvie. "Going fishing? Get the lead out!" Green Guide. National Geographic. Aug. 10, 2007. (Nov. 3, 2008)http://www.thegreenguide.com/blog/tow/876
  • "Spotlight: Fish Responsibly." Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. (Nov. 3, 2008)http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/spotlight/fish_responsibly.htm
  • "Stop Aquatic Hitchikers." Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. (Nov. 11, 2008)http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/ANSbasstournamentbrochure.pdf
  • "Status of the world's fish stocks." Marine Conservation Society FishOnline. (Nov. 3, 2008)http://www.fishonline.org/information/
  • "What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish." Environmental Protection Agency. (Nov. 6, 2008)http://www.epa.gov/fishadvisories/advice/



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How Fish Fraud Works

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