|A large part of the anti-swordfish consuming
campaign has focused on alleged large amounts of bycatch in the longline
fishery (bycatch is composed of those fish that are caught unintentionally
while targetting other species). The allegations of large, uncontrollable
levels of longline bycatch are generally made by the so-called big game
fishermen who spend thousands of dollars a day chasing "trophy" fish like
large sharks, tuna and billfish from yachts costing hundreds of thousands
of dollars or more [for
an idea of what one of these "fishing machines" looks like].
Much of the big game angling world revolves around tournaments - events which attract these yachts and their well-to-do owners from thousands of miles away. Supposedly, considering the prize money offered as well as the side bets, in particular tournaments hundreds of thousands of dollars can depend on who catches the largest of particular species of fish.
Recently much has been made of what are known as "catch and release" tournaments. These are contests in which the sportsmen will hook and battle to exhaustion one of these trophy fish, measure it at boatside and then - possibly after swishing it back and forth in the water a few times to "rejuvenate" it - release it to either provide entertainment to another sportsman on another day or all the sharks in the neighborhood with a large and easy meal.
Of course, with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars riding on the relative size of the fish caught, its probably much more comforting to the sportsmen involved to actually bring their fish in to be weighed. Thus we still have a significant number of "catch and kill" tournaments. As the photos on this page illustrate much to well, these tournaments can and do result in incredible waste. (The primary reason for this waste - and one of the reasons for the billfish "bycatch" that the big-game sportsfishing community constantly blasts the longliners for - is that those same big game anglers have made it illegal to sell billfish, including the marlin that are considered a delicacy in most parts of the world, caught in Atlantic coastal waters.)
While we don't doubt that some of our recreationally oriented, sports fishing colleagues do actually share the conservation ethic with working fishermen whose lives have depended on practising (rather than preaching) conservation for generations, we do question how they can countenance such waste as these photos demonstrate on an on-going basis from their fellow sportsmen.
||Link to the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament (NC) history page. (Note: this link is included only to give the reader an idea of what tournament sportsfishing is like.)|
||Link to Davis Boatworks page. These boats are considered the "Cadillacs" of the sportsfishing world (Note: this link is included only to give the reader an idea of what sportsfishing boats are like.)|
||Link to an article discussing the relative mortality of released "trophy" fish.|
||Link to an article by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries on catch and release mortality in tuna and sharks.|
||Link to the Fishing NJ swordfish directory page|
|Marlin in a dumpster after a 1997 marlin fishing tournament in North Carolina (note: when billfish are to be "stuffed and mounted" as trophies by sportsfishermen the entire fish is discarded except for the bill)|