Saltwater fishing has roots in prehistory, when our ancestors speared fish and dug for clams close to shore. From these beginnings, a huge saltwater fishing industry has grown up around both humanity’s need for protein and our continuing love of hobby angling. The means of catching saltwater fish and saltwater fishing equipment may have changed over thousands upon thousands of years, but the purpose of dropping a line into the sea surely hasn’t. There’s something so relaxing about bobbing on the water, out of sight of land… and thrilling about knowing you can feed yourself using a few tools and your own wits.
Saltwater fishing fun? You bet your boat! But we trawled the ‘net to find out more about just what makes it so interesting.
- According to the American Outdoor Adventure Network’s United States fishing facts, saltwater fishing was the fourth most popular participation sport in the country in the year 2000. In 2001, saltwater fishing was twice as popular as golf. And as of 2002, 22.2 million people considered themselves saltwater anglers according to the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment. Of over 500 million saltwater fishing trips taken, 25% were described as a way of spending time with family and friends, while 33% were a way of relaxing.
- The restrictions placed on saltwater fishing catches are in place to ensure that fish stocks across species continue to thrive. These laws are regularly amended to account for changes in population and the environment. Sometimes that means certain saltwater fish are off limits for a time. In other cases, there may be limitations placed on the size or number of fish that can be caught. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, for instance, has restricted angling for white sharks to rod and reel only and catch and release only.
- Scientific studies paint a grim future for saltwater fishing if further regulations aren’t enacted. According to one 2006 study described in Science magazine, many saltwater fish could be extinct by 2048 as the result of pollution, habitat loss, overfishing, and climate change. The solution proposed at the conclusion of the study involved responsible and sustainable fishery management, environmental cleanup, and habitat maintenance.
- Scale is the name of the game when it comes to both saltwater fishing and saltwater fishing gear. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, any angler who sells his or her catch is considered a commercial fisherman – even small-scale artisanal anglers and recreational boaters who unload excess fish for cash. However, much of the saltwater fishing that happens around the 10,000 miles of US coastline is recreational.
Luckily, it looks like as of 2012, there are still plenty of fish in the sea. And at Fisherman’s Outfitter, we support efforts to keep it that way.