An Ocean View: fishing and angling

Let’s talk about a “sport”: fishing.

Sure, fishing is a sport. Human against animal, reason against nature, battling it out to see who gets to win the day. Well, not really. Let me lay it down for you: the human is at a much greater advantage than the fish. Usually, the fisherman has a net, or a harpoon, or a fishing rod. The fish has nothing but the muscles in its body, its oh-so-tearable cheeks and the slim comfort that maybe, just maybe, the line will break.

Fishing has long been a method for humans to gather food. At one time, humans did it by hand. The next step was using a sharp stick- a harpoon, if you will. Then came a lot of different methods: netting, trapping, angling, the like. Fishing was and is practiced by human civilizations all around the world: ocean fishing, stream fishing, lake fishing, all these a way to harvest the resources that humans desperately needed to survive. How far have we come since then?

I engaged in angling as a youth. The thrill of the hunt never really did leave my bones: I’ll admit that every time I watch an “Animal Planet” special where there’s a hunting scene, I tend to get excitable. I was never really patient enough to be sitting around to fish, and I mostly caught pike. I never met a fish I did not release back into the water, however. And that might just be the wrong way to do it.

Fishing is a fun sport, I know. But if it’s not for food, why bother? Torturing animals with a hook is not really my idea of sport. And even when you are fishing for food, I prefer individuals angling to corporations with an armada of fishing skiffs and boats that plunder our seas indiscriminately, catching more fish than will ever be consumed by humans the world over, and killing about 75% of the catch just because it’s not the fish you’re looking for.

It’s always a complicated scenario. How do you go about fishing for food AND keep an eye on the environment so that things stay sustainable? That’s the topic of next week’s installment: MPAs.

‘Til then, keep an ocean view, friends!

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