Hang ‘Em High?

dead marlin

dead marlin

The sight greeting visitors at a Port Douglas, Australia, marina.

“How sad to watch one of the most beautiful creatures on our earth be subjected to such treatment.”

“Stop killing the oceans for sport and greed.”

“I am glad my children didn’t have to see the appalling sight of such a magnificent creature being killed in the name of sport.”


Those are but a small and very typical sampling of more than 20 comments — as I write this — generated by a report of a near-grander black marlin brought in to be weighed at a Port Douglas, Australia, marina. Most comments came from Australia but some from other countries, including the United States.

Wherever the comments came from, they were nearly unanimous in expressing the same sentiment: The sight of a huge and very dead black marlin hanging from a gantry is shameful.

Those who brought the fish into port maintained that it had died on the line, 300-plus feet down. Some of the comments expressed skepticism about that, but of course we know that can and does happen — sometimes.


Whether or not you accept that explanation, and whether or not you agree that it’s shameful to bring the fish in (with no apparent plan to eat it, by the way), I don’t think you can reasonably disagree with this statement:

Stringing up a large, dead marlin at a marina is simply bad for our sport.

It’s a point I’ve made before and, as long as some anglers/skippers keep doing this, will undoubtedly make again.


If you doubt that this is actually bad for recreational fishing, click on “report” above and read the comments for yourself. It’s obvious that many come from non-anglers; rather than writing off such comments because they came from individuals who don’t fish, that status should make their reaction all the more important.

That is, these reactions come from the general public. You know: the same general public whose support we’ll need in ongoing struggles for angler access and limitations on marine-protected-area closures, for fair allocation of resources and so on.

Provoking the sort of reaction you see here by offloading dead marlin at a marina is obviously not the way to get support.


It is, rather, a good way to alienate the larger population from our sport. It is an ideal way to play into the hands of those who want to spread the word that recreational fishing is barbaric and needlessly destructive.

Fortunately, very few billfish anglers have any interest in stringing up dead billfish for photos or a weight. Unfortunately, it takes only a few to taint the rest of us good apples.

My thought is simply this: Don’t bring dead marlin or sailfish back to a marina. Even if one dies on the line, it doesn’t have to be hung up for the world to see. I think that’s a message worth stating and worth passing on.


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