As a member of the catfishing community, it saddens me to see the misuse of a public resource as is the case with catfish. Although I live in Florida I buy an annual nonresident fishing license in many states so that I can visit and enjoy the catfishing those states offer. I know there are many more like me. I truly believe that catfish are a resource that should be protected to the benefit of each state, its residents, the visitors that catfish attract, and more importantly, our future generations.
The more I learn the more it appears that public servants are going to have to be a part of the solution to the ever-growing activity of transporting live trophy catfish across state lines. I expect the solution will be a combination of better laws and better enforcement.
When I hear anglers talk about the decline in trophy catfish in their area the finger is most often pointed to paylakes and the extraction of trophy catfish from public waters. Operators have an economic incentive to get the trophy catfish wherever and whenever they can.
In a private market the laws of supply and demand would help regulate exchange, but when the resource is public it changes the economics of the situation. The private market tends to allocate resources efficiently, but when goods are “free” as in the case of catfish harvested from public waters those market forces are absent.
When the market fails to allocate trophy catfish or any other public good, so they are consumed in the proper amounts, it requires public servants to establish the policy that will correct the market imperfections.
Current recreational catfish anglers, along with future generations, are suffering an injustice. Once those trophy catfish are taken from public waters they are likely to suffer certain death. They can never be enjoyed again by anglers and/or their children.
The growing catfish community includes individual anglers and families that are joining together to help preserve the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasure of fishing for trophy catfish. When we see the opportunity to join with others in an effort to educate our public officials on the importance of our sport and how they can help we need to do so.
The trophy catfish of our lakes and rivers are a resource worth protecting.
Fish with passion,
Ron Presley, Editor