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Responsible angler: What? Why? How?

By Wisaal Osman, 12th December 2018

Recreational anglers fishing from the harbour wall. Photo © Sunshine Seeds | Shutterstock

Angling is a popular pastime enjoyed by more than a million people across South Africa. While the number of recreational fishers has increased substantially over the past century, catch rates have steadily decreased…

To reverse this trend, WWF South Africa partnered with the South African Shark Conservancy (SASC), the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI), the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) and Rhodes University to publish a guide for responsible recreational fishing in South Africa.

Recreational anglers fishing off Kalk Bay harbour wall. Photo © Sunshine Seeds | Shutterstock

“Recreational angling is fun and often passed down through the generations. In order for us and our children’s children to continue to enjoy this pastime, we need to learn and teach the basics to ensure that recreational fishing is sustainable. Anglers have a critical role to play in reversing a decline in fish stocks,” says Junaid Francis of WWF South Africa.

Recreational anglers on Strand beach at sunset. Photo © The Modern Canvas | Shutterstock

The guide covers a wide range of topics, from catch limits and permits to humane catch-and-release methods and how anglers can contribute to our collective knowledge as citizen scientists by recording and sharing their catch information.

The responsible angler © Fish For Life

The golden rules for the Responsible Angler are:

Adheres to regulations.
A responsible angler always has a valid recreational angling permit; adheres to regulations; uses legal roads and tracks when accessing fishing areas; and reports illegal activities such as environmental damage and pollution.

Negates harm to fish.
A responsible angler handles all species in a way that ensures their best chance of survival; quickly and humanely kills retained fish to ensure the least amount of suffering; and uses equipment and tackle that minimise stress and injury to fish.

Gathers information.
A responsible angler seeks information on the status of marine resources and the impacts of angling on species; embraces recommendations from informed researchers and fishery managers; and records details of their catch.

Leaves the area in a better state.
A responsible angler disposes of fishing line and plastics appropriately, leaving the environment and fishing area in the same or a better condition than when he or she arrived.

Encourages best practice.
A responsible angler does not sell fish; collects bait with the minimum disturbance to the environment; and acts responsibly when exposed to activities that will negatively affect the conservation of marine resources.

Role model to others.
A responsible angler is a role model to other anglers and leads by example; educates others – especially younger anglers – about sustainable fishing practices and is considerate of other legitimate marine users.