PATTAYA TRADER’S FISHERMAN
SLOW DEATH – THE EFFECTS ON FISH MAY BE DOING THE SAME TO YOU
Its Eco edition and so I thought I would write something close to my heart and a process that I follow meticulously when I go fishing. If I didn’t do some of the tips mentioned later in this article, then what would be the point in returning to a venue that has given me hours upon hours of pleasure as an angler and has fed me with Omega 3 oils and a hearty meal to boot?
Fish may be actively seeking out plastic debris in the oceans as the tiny pieces appear to smell similar to their natural prey. The fish confuses plastic for an edible substance because micro plastics in the oceans, rivers or lakes pick up a covering of biological material such as algae that mimics the smell of food.
Scientists presented schools of wild-caught anchovies with plastic debris taken from the oceans, and with clean pieces of plastic that had never been in the ocean. The anchovies responded to the odours of the ocean debris in the same way as they do to the odours of the food they seek. The scientists said this was the first behavioural evidence that the chemical signature of plastic debris was attractive to a marine organism, and reinforces other work suggesting the odour could be significant. The finding also demonstrates an additional danger of plastic in the oceans, as it suggests that fish are not just ingesting the tiny pieces by accident but actively seeking them out.
When plastic floats in the sea its surface gets colonised by algae within days or weeks, a process known as bio fouling. Previous research has shown that this algae produces and emits DMS, an algal based compound that certain marine animals use to find food. Plastic may be more deceptive to fish than previously thought. If plastic both looks and smells like food, it is more difficult for animals like fish to distinguish it as “not food.”
Plastic debris in the oceans, ranging from the microscopic to large visible pieces, is recognised as a growing problem as it does not readily degrade and hundreds of thousands of tonnes are dumped in the sea annually. Larger pieces have been found in the intestines of whales and seabirds, where they are thought to be potentially fatal, while the smallest pieces have been detected in the guts of even juvenile fish and molluscs. Numerous species of fish eaten by humans have been found to contain plastic, and the effect of eating these on human health is still unknown.
Efforts to reduce marine plastic have so far had little effect: microbeads widely used in cosmetics and other products have been banned in the US, the UK and other countries, but they only solve part of the problem, which is mainly caused by dumping of plastic rubbish. There will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. If dumping or global policy does not get its act together
I have always been a firm believer in eco-friendly fishing. Fishing is a sustainable sport. People have been fishing for pretty much as long as they’ve been eating and nature has a way of seeing to that balance. But more and more, I’m seeing people completely trashing the waters where fish live. And I’m ashamed to say that it’s not just beer cans and cigarette butts on the lakes where I fish. My fellow anglers are guilty as well – I know it’s them, because there are discarded hooks, line and even lures both in the water and on a beach.
I don’t like fishing in a dirty environment. But it goes beyond just my own personal preference. The more we continue to damage the waters where the fish live, the less fish we’ll actually see. That’s bad news for both anglers and the fish. So want to clean up your fishing trips a bit? Here are a few simple things you can do to make our sport more enjoyable and ensure that fishing is a skill we can pass down to our kids:
USE THE BAG DON’T DUMP
Wherever you go, bring a small trash bag with you. If you see something, pick it up. It’s that simple.
CLEAN UP YOURSELF
Again, a very simple task. But did you know that thousands of animals each year are caught by “ghost fishing?” Ghost fishing is what happens when marine life becomes tangled in the lines and hooks we leave behind. These animals aren’t being harvested or used. They simply remain on the line. This can greatly impact the wildlife population of the area where you fish. If can also cause injury to animals, further reducing the population. Pick up after yourself.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got to use “all natural ingredients.” Fish don’t much care whether there’s preservative in their chicken livers. What it means is that you can try to use baits which are natural to the environment. Try using shrimp to catch catfish instead of corn or livers. For crab, use rotting fish instead of dog food. Using baits that are natural to the fish’s environment is less likely to harm the fish. That’s especially true if you intend to catch-and-release the fish.
GROUND BAIT RESPONSIBLY
Ground baiting is a pretty controversial practice. Lots of anglers think it’s cheating, others think it’s irresponsible. Truthfully, it doesn’t have to be either if you do it right. There are methods of ground baiting that are harmful to fish. For example, creating “natural” structures underwater using hay bales or similar materials is not a good idea. The hay rots, causing bacteria and mold to enter the water. That kills the fish and also affects the plants in the water.
Other harmful ground baiting practices include using dog food, corn, glitter and other materials. These are very harmful to fish and the environment. Instead, use natural oils for grounding, or try frozen fish. Both options are better for the ecosystems fish live in.
MIND THAT FIRE
There’s nothing more relaxing than spending a day on the lake, then cooking your catch for supper. But is your fire harmful to the environment? Not necessarily. You can make sure you’re doing what you can to protect nature by building your fire the right way. First, be sure to choose an open space. There should be at least 10 feet surrounding your fire which is clear of any trees or plants. Secondly, only use wood that’s already fallen. Using green wood is harmful to the environment and the smoke can also be harmful to you.
Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of emergency, and never burn plastics or chemically treated wood. When you’re done with your fire, put it out completely, and do your best to redistribute the wood that you collected evenly.
FIX YOUR BOAT
One of the most important things you can do to practice eco-friendly fishing is to maintain your boat. Oil and gasoline affect thousands of marine creatures, and it’s pretty simple to prevent this.
The effects of oil, in particular, are long lasting. Consider this:
A 1969 oil spill in Massachusetts USA… still affects fiddler crabs in that area
The 1979 Ixtoc spill still has an impact on oysters and mangroves.
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez spill dumped 10.8 million gallons of oil into the water. That oil is still found on the beaches of Alaska.
Of course, your boat is much smaller than the Exxon Valdez. The point is that the toxins your boat releases into the water will stick around for a very long time. That can be prevented by regular boat maintenance.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
You don’t have to be an environmental activist to make a few small changes. Simply start by being mindful of your own trash, or bringing a bag along with you to help clean up for others’. Even the smallest of steps can help to make a huge impact on the waters where we fish. That, in turn, will ensure that fishing remains a sustainable sport for centuries to come here in Thailand.
“Khap Khun Khrap & TIGHT LINES” – Stay Alive and Healthy