Saturday, August 30, 2014

IGFA - lame lame lame!

The IGFA keeps defending unethical trophy fishing - not cool!

Remember David's paper about trophy fishing?
As a reminder, here's a nice synopsis, and I cite
“To us, ‘don’t kill IUCN Red List Threatened species for fun’ should be a part of any ethical angling policy, and many IGFA member anglers that we’ve spoken to agree,” Shiffman said. “We can only hope that the IGFA leadership decides to take the simple step that we propose.” 
Well said - totally agree!

And here is the answer by the IGFA.
Well, nobody really expected that they would fully endorse the paper's recommendations - but this?
This is unprofessional demagoguery at its very worst, to the point that one really has to ask the question whether the Conservation Director (no less!) is just simply hopelessly out of his depth? Nobody disputes that the principal cause for those collapsing fish stocks is not the recreational anglers but commercial (and subsistence!) fishing, at least when it comes to the marine species - but this is in no way an excuse for continuing to promote policies that are ethically reprehensible and hopelessly antiquated!

No I'm not gonna dwell.
The proposed solutions are compelling and easy to implement, and they would instantly affirm the IGFA as a responsible and forward looking organization - AND help preserve the Fish stocks the IGFA relies upon for its existence.

Not gonna happen - and fuck the breathy mission statement.
Not impressed!


Megalobomb said...

Wow. Love this bit:

"IGFA record requirements do state that fish may not be weighed on boats at sea or other bodies of water. What the authors were apparently unaware of, however, is that it is perfectly acceptable for anglers to weigh their catch using personal hand scales at or near the site of catch, as long as it is not done on a vessel. While this is not amenable to large pelagic species such as billfish, tunas and some sharks it does indeed result in a large proportion of IGFA records being released."

Way to prove Shiffman et al.'s point.

*beings the slow clap*

JD said...


Clearly, you don't understand the current dynamics of recreational fishing. In addition, you ignore the main point of the IGFA's response to the paper. Essentially, a vast majority of anglers are NOT fishing for IGFA records. "Trophy fishing," as referenced by the authors, is not commonplace in most areas. A good example is the fact that a vast majority of billfish caught by anglers are released. In any case, the fact that 15 fish (of a number of species) have been killed over the past 20 years from the red list for IGFA records indicates how uncommon the so called "Trophy Fishing" for IGFA All-Tackle records really is. Less than 1 fish a year is overwhelmingly inconsequential. Yet, you seem to ignore this point. Perhaps you have a problem with recreational fishing. The paper's major argument, that no longer offering records for Red List species will reduce fishing pressure on the species, is clearly false. The authors clearly did not bother to research recreational fishing prior to writing this paper, which based on faulty assumptions.

In addition, the Red List is also outdated and continues to list some species as threatened, even as quantitative stock assessments indicate they have recovered. Northwest Atlantic mako sharks, which haven't been assessed by the IUCN since 2004, had a stock assessment in 2012 which indicated they are not overfished and current harvest is sustainable. Atlantic bigeye tuna and spiny dogfish are also not overfished. Bluefin tuna in the Atlantic are recovering and, depending on the recruitment scenario, may be above MSY (not overfished). Regardless, the current harvest will continue to allow the stock to increase. Therefore, prohibiting harvest of these particular species would be nothing more than an agenda-based decision, which is not how resources are managed. All of this isn't even mentioning the fact that many of these species are already protected by quota-based management.

DaShark said...

JD, I am an avid game fisherman.
I fish for the thrill and for food - those I eat I keep, the others I release.
And I don't target threatened species.

You are obviously being disingenuous.
Trophy fishing continues to be commonplace, be it in kill tournaments but also by anglers trying to catch record fishes whereby many more fish than those 15 confirmed records are being landed and killed. And then there are people like the infamous Mark the Shark who kills Sharks for fun and bravado - or do you approve of what he does?

But I agree with you that overall, recreational fishing is probably rather irrelevant in terms of conservation.
Not always and everywhere tho - see e.g. the situation in New South Wales where the principal threat to those threatened and fully protected Grey Nurse Sharks comes from accidental capture by anglers encroaching into their habitat.
But granted, that's clearly the exception.

What however totally riles me are the ethical aspects.
Would that be an agenda?
If so, guilty as charged!

Not even the maligned hunters would dare promoting the targeting and killing of pregnant females - and yet by the nature of fishes where the females are the biggest individuals, the IGFA continues to do precisely that.

And for the life of me, I just cannot see any ethical justification for targeting and killing threatened species, sorry.

As per the paper, there are other mechanisms whereby the anglers can still fully retain the thrill of the fight in addition to the pride of having caught the big one - and it just simply beats and frankly saddens me that the IGFA has chosen to simply dismiss the whole paper instead of engaging in a productive discussion about those aspects that reflect valid concerns.

JD said...

I'm not being disingenuous...anglers that fish for IGFA Records represent the minority of the recreational fishing community. Not only that, but most people who do chase records target line-class records, which don't always require the largest, most fecund fishes. "Pregnant" is not really the proper term here. As for kill tournaments, they are far less common for fish that aren't typically eaten, such as billfish, then in the past. The paper contends that if the IGFA discontinues records for Red Listed species, that will result in a decrease in fishing pressure on the species. That is simply not true, and ignores the current dynamics of the recreational fishing community. The recreational take of most of the commonly targeted species on the list, especially pelagics, is a very small proportion of the overall take and is likely not going to be the overall issue affecting the sustainability of the population. And the take for IGFA All-Tackle records (the type discussed in the paper) is much smaller than that. The paper takes a non-issue and attempts to present it as a significant enough source of mortality that ceasing the activity would relieve fishing pressure on the stock. This isn't true, and reflects a poor understanding of recreational fishing on the part of the authors.

I find Mark the Shark to be reprehensible, as does a vast majority of the fishing community.

Lastly, as I said before, some of the more commonly targeted species on the Red List are not threatened in their entire range. Quantitative stock assessments, which provide a much more rigorous and reliable assessment than the Red List does, has show stocks of many of the "threatened" species to not be overfished and harvest is sustainable. Which is exactly why the authors should NOT have blindly referenced the Red List without checking in to more updated, and frankly accurate, sources of data. Thus, there would be no reason to eliminate those fish from the IGFA record list, or to further restrict harvest. I apologize for using the term agenda; however, that seems to be the way several "marine conservation groups" operate in reference to any harvest in general.

DaShark said...

JD lemme first say that I do enjoy this debate - thanks!

Look, I happen to agree with 99% of what you say.
Like I said, I've been an avid game fisherman for decades and keep well abreast of developments.

But having re-read the paper and also the comments by the lead author that were incidentally posted prior to the rebuttal by the IGFA, I however believe that you may be misinterpreting the gist of the paper.
I'm by no means a spokesperson for Schiffman but the way I see it, the issue has been principally framed as an ethical rather than a conservation issue. But again, I'm not he and maybe it would be best if you debated David directly on his blog.

Where I stand is that being nearly 60, I have personally witnessed and am deeply troubled by the devastating reduction of both marine and freshwater stocks.
Mind you, not at all (!) due to recreational fishing - but it has happened never the less.

With that in mind, I personally bemoan the gratuitous killing of any Fish - and this irrespective of whether it is threatened, or not, and irrespective of line classes or gender etc!

Like you correctly state, over the years, the vast majority of recreational anglers and game fishermen have thankfully already increasingly embraced more enlightened practices, see e.g the case of the Billfishes where the unwritten rule is to catch & release so that the next fisherman can enjoy the opportunity of squaring up against an even bigger fish, etc etc.

Methinks it behooves the IGFA to encourage and embrace those developments - and abolishing those mass records in favor of other measurements would be a great way of documenting that.

Plus, it would in no way detract from the pleasure of being outdoors, the challenge, the thrill of the fight or the pride of being a champion which is what probably drives most recreational fishermen?

Obviously this is not going to be easy, especially considering the strenuous opposition by some national federations - but this is certainly a timely and necessary debate, and I applaud Shiffman et al for having addressed it in public.