By Lee Crockett
From the Chesapeake Bay to Florida’s Gulf Coast, recreational fishing is big business for many communities along the Eastern Seaboard. In fact, more than one-third of America’s 11.8 million saltwater anglers live in the region. I count myself among them.
This national pastime is much more than throwing a line off a local pier. In some areas, anglers catch more of certain species of fish than commercial fishermen do. Unfortunately, a series of myths about recreational fishing has clouded recent policy discussion on Capitol Hill. Here are five of those myths.
1. There are plenty of fish in the water.
At first glance, it seems like common sense: If people are catching lots of fish, there must be plenty in the sea. But like all anecdotal evidence, on-the-water observations need to be backed up by more rigorous scientific research.
Anglers go where the fish are, and although discrete regions may have abundant supplies, the total area that a species occupies may have shrunk. For example, some fish form dense groupings when they reproduce, known as spawning aggregations, making them seem more prolific than they are, and also making them easy targets.
This is the case for barred sand bass and kelp bass, two popular recreational species in Southern California. More....