Marine fishing regulations are stringent and complicated. You can’t drag an illegal fish in, keep it, and claim ignorance. You can’t fish in restricted waters. You can’t laugh it off and deny the ticket from Marine Patrol. Thankfully, these regulations can be found in many places, and as long as you are attentive to what you’ve snagged on your hook, you’ll be okay. Let’s discuss the best resources, so you aren’t caught unaware. You’ll need at least three things: your location, a fish identifier, and up-to-d ate regulations.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is a scientific agency dedicated to preserving marine wildlife. They set the fishing regulations and manage more than four million square miles of oceanic waters off the coast of th e United States. They have many of the fishing regulations on their website, where they list what’s in season, what’s legal bait, etc., but they’ve gone a step further than that. They’ve recommended an app to the avid marine fishers that simplifies everyth ing. It’s called Fish Rules: Fishing App, and it can be found on Android and iOS.
The app can be used both online and off. So long as you know your coordinates, regardless if you are fishing off the coast of Hawaii or closer to Maine, you can easily find out whether or not your catch is in season, how many you can keep per person or vessel, the minimum size, and any other pertinent information such as whether or not it’s edible. It’s regularly updated throughout the year (remember to set it to auto-update ) and can immediately alert you if you’re fishing in restricted waters. Even better, it has an extensive library of photographs so you can quickly identify your fish. It also includes a fishing log and photo capture to keep track of your catches, keeps, an d releases. If you need one more reason to use it, it helps scientists learn marine habits when you log highly migratory fish.
In addition to understanding the catch regulations, you need to be sure you are not using an illegal method of fishing. This inc ludes cyanide, dynamite, and bottom trawling, the most destructive fishing practice known to man.
Beyond this information, it’s important to note that you’ll need a fishing license for the waters you’re in, typically available through the closest state. If you already have a fishing license in that state, you can often sign up for an additional marine log and license for free, though in states like Florida, you’ll need something a bit more comprehensive.
The bottom line is that we all want marine life t o be healthy, and overfishing or keeping nonregulation catches wreaks havoc on the ecosystem. Please do your part, follow the rules, and help the NOAA keep our waters teeming with fish.