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At the end of the day, Dan, we may have some differemces on best ways to tackle the problem, but we certainly agree that as anglers we all face relentless, international forces that would hamstring our pursuit of the sport. That agreement is critical and, as you say, it’s to our mutual benefit that we can discuss such things in a reasoned and productive way. We have some supposedly pro-fishing voices on this side of the pond whose shrill invective and name-calling within our ranks is the sort of self-destructive response that the real enemies of fishing must love to see. Glad no one in this thread has felt the need to resort to that sort of rhetoric.
For the most part, Dan, we agree. I know well of your ongoing battles Down Under with Pew to keep the entire Coral Sea from being closed; SPORT FISHING has been in the forefront among U.S. magazines to report on that (and decry it). In fact, I’ve also pointed out in editorials that once the Coral Sea “falls,” Pew could conceivably go after the Gulf of Mexico next (though Pew denies this). Where we differ is that you feel we can’t let the “antis” dictate our actions, and any reluctance to proudly display dead billfish is just that. On the other hand, I believe that if we foster and promote a general feeling in the public -- and I mean the vast population of general public, not those “fish huggers” with a dog in this hunt -- that the antis are right and fishermen are rapers of nature, then we’re playing right into the hands of the imogen zethovens of the world who want to shut us out. That general population knows little about how anglers are true conservationists and, sadly, a picture IS worth a thousand words. Men stringing up a huge marlin to get a photo -- when we like it or not -- does send a message. So you may label a call to avoid hanging dead billfish in crowded marinas as restricting ourselves, but I call it simply being smart (and in my mind very proactive) in our ongoing battle to maintain our rights to fish. Let’s not give Imogen more ammunition to rile up the public who can certainly make the difference in our future opportunities to fish or not.
Some excellent points made in the three posts here, and I appreciate the chance to elaborate a bit. I agree that when a marlin truly cannot be resuscitated, scientists should be provided with tissue samples or the chance to take them. Otherwise, I would personally like to see all marlin released; I believe they’re worth far more alive than as food, and there are plenty of other, smaller, fast-growing pelagics that most anglers agree taste better. Yes, I’d like to see all tournaments adopt a release format. (There will always be those marlin beyond saving to provide scientists with tissue samples.) Of course if a marlin is beyond reviving and a boat does elect to bring it back to the dock for whatever reason, I’m hardly suggesting it somehow be hidden from view, but I do believe hanging it up for bragging-rights photos is unnecessary and counterproductive. As the comments I cited indicate, the great majority of non-angling public who see this find it offensive. Our sport is increasingly under siege, and if we alienate the non-angling public (that would see and remember a dead fish like this but never see the many more released alive), it can only hurt us.
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