Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recycling fish

This week's writing prompt from OBN:
What does sustainable fishing mean to you? What fishing practices do you engage in that help fisheries? Any other thoughts you might have on this subject?

I'll do my best to answer all of those questions... in my own special way.

Last year, for the first time, I saw fish cleverly incorporated into a three arrow recycling symbol. I was at the Academy Sports & Outdoors store in Jackson, Mississippi, and I found some Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) T-shirts that had a three fish recycle logo on them. I remember thinking, "what a cool way to tie into the green movement and promote catch and release fishing." I was really impressed that somebody had made that connection... and honestly wished I had thought of it first. Then, more recently, I found GreenFish thanks to The Fiberglass Manifesto blog.

The fishy spin on the recycling symbol does an excellent job of visually summarizing what catch and release anglers put into practice every time they go fishing. I don't know who came up with the fishy recycling symbol idea first, and I guess it doesn't really matter. It's basically just a piscatorial variation of the original recycling symbol designed by Gary Anderson in 1970.

The original recycling symbol by Gary Anderson

An adaptation of the original symbol on a bin in my kitchen

The recycling symbol has of course become universal, but there are a few versions out there regarding the meaning of the three arrows. One popular interpretation is "Collect, Process, Manufacture," although I don't believe Mr. Anderson attributed any particular meaning to the arrows. I think he just intended the symbol to illustrate the idea of continuous industrial processes with no beginning and no end. Even if there isn't a true meaning for each arrow, I like the idea of trying to interpret the symbol. There is certainly more to the story of recycling than just "Collect, Process, Manufacture." You have to get consumers to buy products made from recycled materials. In order to acknowledge that selling the goods is a vital part of the cycle, you could easily say "Manufacture & Merchandise."

With all of that being said, I'd like to offer up my own "Top Ten" list (in no particular order) of interpretations of meaning for a three fish recycling symbol. I'll maintain the same "C_, P_, M_" theme just to keep it interesting.
  1. "Catch, Proper release, Move on"- as basic as it gets when practicing catch and release. What most of us do when a fish isn't picture worthy.
  2. "Catch, Proper release, Mentor"- teach the next generation about the benefits of catch and release.
  3. "Catch, Photograph, Make a quick release"- what we try to do when we catch a picture worthy fish.
  4. "Catch, Photograph, Measure & Mount a replica"- the catch and release alternative to traditional skin mount taxidermy.
  5. "Catch, Photograph, Magazine"- this would only apply to those fisherman (mostly industry professionals) lucky enough to have their catch published in print for the rest of us to drool over.
  6. "Catch, Put in livewell, Make Money"- the variation for professional tournament bass fisherman. As NASCAR good ol' boy as tournament bass fishing sometimes seems, it has been a huge force in promoting catch and release practices among recreational anglers. Fly fisherman (FFF members) introduced Ray Scott (founder of BASS) to catch and release and his Bassmaster tournaments introduced it to the world.
  7. "Catch, Photograph, Make Memories"- the no frills alternative for those of us who don't get paid to fish, but wish we did.
  8. "Catch, Photograph and release, Make it known"- this could involve writing a blog post with photos or even just sharing a photo with a friend and explaining why you practice catch and release.
  9. "Conserve, Protect, Mandate"- the necessary evil of water use, pollution, and fisheries related legislation that protects our fishing resources.
  10. "Collection, Piscatorial Propagation, Monitoring & Management"- this defines the fisheries biologists that work to maintain and improve fisheries through scientific means.
Sustainable fishing means all of those things in the list and more to me. It means that the next generation won't just read about the glory of fisheries past, but rather read about wise management decisions that conserved the fisheries resources they will be enjoying in future days. Sustainable fishing means getting away from the past ideals of "Catch, Plunder, More than can be eaten"... and in some places even abandoning "Catch, Pan, Meal" if a particular fishery can't sustain such practices. I don't have any personal issue with taking home the occasional fish for the frying pan, but the fact is we just can't all do it all of the time... and certain fisheries just can't handle it at all.

Aside from actually practicing catch and release, I think the most important action I take that supports sustainable fisheries is explaining to others why I do it. A little bit of the environmental educator in me comes out when I take the time to explain it. I find it very rewarding to teach others about how natural resources conservation works and the benefits of informed conservation practices.

Hopefully the long-term benefits of a world of anglers practicing and promoting catch and release will prove to be more rewarding than any of us could ever imagine.

This blog entry is my submission for the GreenFish and Outdoor Blogger Network Writing Prompt Giveaway.


  1. You are Continuously Producing Masterpieces :)

  2. Thanks, Nash. I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but I try to put forth a little creative effort occasionally.

  3. As usual Jay you take what could be a tedious subject, combine it with common sense, a little humor and a dose of intelligence and it equals good reading. I alway learn something from you even if I don't want to.

  4. Thanks, Cofisher. That really means a lot to me. I think the same description could be given to your blog writing.

  5. That was AWESOME!!! Winner, winner chicken dinner!

  6. Way to explore the various levels of CPM.

  7. Thanks, Jen for Contributing more Propaganda to My cause.