No Fishing Signs
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Fishing techniques & their impact

Every method for catching fish comes with unintended consequences. Some methods are so destructive that they are outlawed in many parts of the world, while others pose a threat that varies from situation to situation. Whether you’re part of a commercial or recreational fishing community or just an outdoor enthusiast, it’s important to understand these methods and their potential threats to fish, plant life and other aquatic species

One of the most common techniques used by fishing boats off the East and West Coast is seining – which uses various configurations of netting and weights to catch a target species. The main threat of this method, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, is that the nets often capture non-targeted species.

To reduce this risk, the use of seines along beaches – rather than in the open water - is prohibited in many areas.

Bottom trawling
Bottom trawling is a method often used to catch seafloor-dwelling creatures, like shrimp and cod, by dragging a large net with heavy weights across the seafloor.

According to the Marine Conservation Institute, this unintentionally catches “large amounts of by-catch – fish, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals - that are often incidentally killed in fishing operations.”

Because it also can damage plant life and habitats, trawling is usually prohibited in coastal areas with coral reefs or coastal sea grass beds, according to the FAO.

Laws pertaining to this ancient and hotly contested fishing method vary widely from location-to-location.

In some areas, it has been blamed for the local extinction of species, and therefore banned, but proponents of spear fishing claim it is one of the most low-impact fishing methods – targeting a specific fish and rendering little effect on the habitat.

To protect fish populations, some areas have instituted specific rules – in Australia, spear fishing cannot be done with SCUBA or snorkel equipment, while Mexico also prohibits powered spear guns.

Many states in the U.S. only allow spear fishing several hundred yards off the coastline, and impose limits on the number of fish that can be caught.

In some cases, the method is prohibited to protect those who might spearfish. Board members of Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina recently banned any swimming-related activities – including spear fishing – near a pier, because of the potential for spear fishermen to be caught in the lines of those fishing from the shore.

Poisons and Explosives
Poor communities often use poisons, such as cyanide or pesticides, or explosives made from inexpensive materials to kill or stun fish - along with other organisms in the water.

While these methods are outlawed by almost all national fishing laws, according to the FAO, enforcement is often inadequate.

In addition to killing non-targeted fish, these methods also introduce pollutants and, in the case of explosions, decimate the environment – producing craters and destroying coral reefs that can take several decades to recover, according to the FAO.

Muroami is another fishing technique that produces devastating collateral damage. Used in Southeast Asia, heavy blocks of cement or large stones are used to repeatedly smash coral reefs into small fragments – scaring out the fish that are then caught in a net surrounding the reef

In addition to abiding by local regulations, fishermen and others can help protect valuable resources by recording and reporting anyone using a fishing method that violates local laws.

No Fishing Symbol
Many other countries – including Mexico – have strict laws about where fishing can and can’t take place. When your sign needs to be understood by people whose first language may not be English, pictograms like these can get your message across to a universal audience.
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