Everyone Can Be a Marine Conservationist

John Blaha

As the saltwater fisheries see more and more pressure from the recreational fishermen, lively discussions often break out among individuals as to who is the true conservationist and why. There are many "groups" or "types" of fishermen in the world of recreational fishing, and each has their own reasons for choosing the way they fish and approach the sport. We are often blinded by our own reasoning and often tend to shun the thoughts and methods of our peers that approach fishing in a different way.

If one was to do a method survey at a busy boat ramp at any given time, he or she would most likely find many types of fishermen, including live baiters (shrimp and finfish in general), dead baiters, and artificial bait fishermen (including jigs, top waters, suspending baits, etc.). In between all of these different types of fishermen, you might find those who are happy to catch anything they can, those that want to "limit-out" every time under the provisions of current bag and length requirements, someone who simply wants a few fish to eat, the trophy hunter, the species specific fisherman, and the guy that just wants to be on the water.

So who is the true conservationist out of all these groups? In reality, true conservationists come from all these groups. Each individual has his or her own set of skills, desires, and reasons for choosing how they fish and why they fish. No one group of fisherman is any less of a conservationist than the other as long as they respect, give back to, and help conserve the wonderful resource that we have available to us.

We often talk about respect in all aspects of life, and respecting the resource is as important for a fisherman as the respect between a parent and child. Respect for the resource can be shown in many ways - including obeying all bag and length limits, doing as little damage as possible to the habitat by avoiding grass beds and other natural structure when running your boat, keeping litter in the boat and removing any that you might see, releasing some "keeper" fish when you have plenty in the freezer or really do not plan on eating any for a while, or simply taking the time to slow down, look around and see if there is anything out of the ordinary about your surroundings, and if so, what is it and what can be done.

Give back to the resource by stopping and taking the time to walk a shoreline without your rod and reel and pick up litter and debris when you are out on a trip, take part in an organized cleanup effort in your local area or the area you enjoy fishing, help out with community projects in your area, or ask yourself and your peers what can I do to help make an area better.

Help conserve the resource by teaching others the importance of respect and giving back, volunteer for a children's function to help educate the younger generation the importance of the resource, or volunteer to help with a conservation organization so that important legislative and fisheries management battles can be won and conservation projects can be completed.

In the end, no one type of conservationist/fisherman is better than the other. We all want a viable and sustainable resource for our generation, our children's, grandchildren's and all future generations to come. Be respectful of the resource, get involved and make a difference.

Other conservation news and events

CCA Texas Contributes $10,000 to Nueces Bay Marsh Restoration Project

Total contribution to grow to $20,000 through secured matching grants

CCA Texas Executive Board and Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) recently approved $10,000 in funding for the Nueces Bay Marsh Restoration Project. This project, under the guidance of Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP), will eventually restore approximately 150 acres of lost marsh along Nueces Bay's Portland Causeway. In addition to these funds, HTFT is also currently going through final approvals for a $10,000 matching grant from the Fish America Foundation, pushing the total contribution and funds secured to $20,000.

This restoration project will consist of multiple phases and these funds will go towards phase one, which will restore approximately 30 acres. Contracts should be awarded by the end of February and actual movement of dirt for the restoration project should begin in March. CCA Texas / HTFT and CBBEP will also host a volunteer grass planting day in late spring at the site. This type of event allows volunteers locally and from throughout the state to take part in a hands-on effort to enhance and restore Texas's coastal habitat.

"CBBEP looks forward to partnering with CCA Texas and HTFT on this project and we look forward to working on other projects together in the future," commented Ray Allen, CBBEP Executive Director. Allen further commented, "This donation will help restore lost marsh that is important to the health and sustainability of this part of Nueces Bay and provide opportunities for all recreational fishermen to enjoy."

Upcoming events

February 18th Texas State Chapter Annual Banquet Location TBD, San Marcos, Texas

February 25th Four Corners Chapter Annual Banquet Community Center, Midlothian, Texas

February 25th San Bernard Chapter Annual Banquet Riverside Hall, East Bernard, Texas

Be sure to check the CCA Texas Events Calendar at www.ccatexas.org