CATFISH CONSERVATION -Trophy Catfish for the Future
by Jason Masingale
The Importance of Conservation
I feel it is everyone’s responsibility to protect the resources and environment to the best of their ability. Natural resources, such as fish and game, are totally dependent on the rules and regulations that are applied to them. It is up to us, as sportsmen and sportswomen, to protect, maintain, and improve these resources.
I have seen pictures on Facebook of harvested fish that make me curious. Then, I hear different opinions related to catching big catfish and removing them from their natural waters. If the fish were caught legally, then the fisherman or fishermen had every right to do what they did, and I am not condemning them for that.
What I want fishermen to understand is the effect on the fishery of taking these big fish out of the breeding pool. Think of it in terms of conservation.
A large fish is a far more successful breeder than a smaller fish. Because of their larger size, they can survive the stresses of spawning and are better adapted to defend the nest against larger predators.
Let’s do a little math. A female blue catfish will lay about 10,000 eggs, and of those eggs, after hatching less than 0.1% (10 fish or 1 in 1,000) will survive and reach full maturity. If 1,000 catfish are harvested from their natural habitat, and half are females, that means that because they are no longer available to spawn, there are potentially 30 fewer fish of this size to catch in the future!
I understand that there are other factors that could influence these figures, but it does give an idea of the effect that removing these fish from their native waters does.
Removal of trophy fish from their native waters, for commercial reasons, has a direct impact on future fish populations for that body of water. These larger fish have proven genetics to show the size that they can achieve. It is unfortunate that by placing these fish in pay lakes they will never be able to spawn and have the fry survive to reach their potential.
Trophy catfish are not a renewable and unlimited resource and harvest without regulation will have a detrimental impact on the fisheries they were removed from.
We are all keepers of our natural resources, and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we protect these natural resources. If you want to keep fish to eat, keep those smaller fish, the 10-pound and less size fish. They are plentiful and easy to catch. Remember, there is a 99.9% chance that they are not going to make it to their maximum potential anyways. Remember the 1 in 1000 odds.
It’s not too late. We still have the opportunity to protect the waters that produce trophy fish. We can improve those waters that have suffered from over harvest.
The key to ensuring a healthy population of fish for future generations is through education. These fish are not an unlimited resource, and over harvesting of these large breeder fish will result in lower numbers for future generations to enjoy! Pass the word on. Not everyone will agree, but we can make them aware of the impact on the fishery, and that is a start!