12 Easy Ways To Make Your Fishing More Sustainable

fishing more sustainable

Practicing sustainable fishing means catching a particular number of fish and leaving the excess or untargeted in the waters. It also involves respecting marine life and doing everything possible to ensure it remains healthy. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. People continue fishing more than they can consume, leading to overfishing.

Overfishing hurts both fish and other sea creatures. For example, there have been many cases where sea turtles and other creatures have been caught, leading to the extinction of some species. However, it isn’t too late to rectify this. There are several ways you can practice sustainable fishing and save marine life. 

From using the correct tool to practicing particular fishing techniques, here are effective tips to help you practice sustainable fishing:

12 Ways to Make Your Fishing More Sustainable

  1. Use Non-Toxic Tools
  2. Avoid Bycatch
  3. Consider Trolling
  4. Use The Hook-And-Line Fishing Technique
  5. Practice The Traps And Pots Technique
  6. Prevent Oil Spillage
  7. Contain Your Waste
  8. Follow The ‘Good Fish Guide’
  9. Practice Catch And Release
  10. Use Every Part of the Fish
  11. Practice Purse Seining
  12. Consider Spear Fishing

Use Non-Toxic Tools

Fishing is among the activities requiring one to use different tools. For example, you’ll need tackles, fishing rods, and a flip or pocket knife, such as an EDC folding knife. It’s essential to ensure you’re not using toxic tools when you fish.

Toxic tools are made from materials such as lead. According to experts, marine life exposed to excess lead can experience several health challenges that can be fatal.

For example, fish excessively exposed to lead can develop paralysis, reproductive issues, or reduced growth. This results in more fish deaths, leading to scarcity. Once you consume fish that’s been contaminated with lead, your health gets affected as well.

However, you can prevent this by choosing fishing tools made with eco-friendly materials. Bamboo, fiberglass, and carbon fiber are all ideal fishing rod materials. On the other hand, your fishing knife should be made with carbon or stainless steel, easy to use, and reliable.

Avoid Bycatch

Bycatch refers to capturing non-target species. Unfortunately, every year, hundreds of dolphins, sea turtles, and other endangered species are caught by fishing nets, only for fishermen to release them when they’re already injured or dead. This act threatens these species’ existence.

You can prevent such scenarios by reducing bycatch. Preventing bycatch is possible and easy with the right knowledge and tools. Marine biologists have developed a way to eliminate bycatch after noticing a declining number of cod while haddock seemed to increase. This method involves using larger mesh sizes in the top portion of the net to allow smaller fish to escape while retaining the target species in the lower portion.

These marine biologists developed the design after noticing cod love to swim downwards and haddock upwards after being approached by a net. 

Another way to prevent bycatch is by using a pole and line. This fishing technique allows you to catch one fish at a time, as opposed to trapping unwanted species in a net.

Consider Trolling

When trolling, you hook several fishing lines on your vessel. This fishing technique targets fast-moving fish since the boat must move fast. Since not all fish species can keep up with a fast-moving vessel, trolling prevents the bycatch of slow species. This way, you catch your desired fish without risking others’ lives.

Use The Hook-And-Line Fishing Technique

The hook-and-line fishing technique involves using a fishing rod with one or several hooks. The advantage of using this technique is that it allows you to capture the fish type you need. If you accidentally catch the wrong species, you can immediately unhook and return it to the waters before it sustains severe injuries. However, this technique limits the fish you can catch simultaneously, slowing the fishing procedure.

Practice The Traps And Pots Technique

Sustainable fishing is about preserving the waters and preventing bycatch. You get this exactly when you practice the traps and pots technique. These traps and pots are either cages or nets floating on water. They lure fish, and once they enter the trap, they experience challenges fleeing.

Most of these traps are designed to allow small fish to escape and contain bigger ones. The traps can be stationed at the surface or near the seafloor. They keep fish alive and healthy. The bycatch can also quickly be released without any harm.

Prevent Oil Spillage

Oil spill spreads fast on water, whether salty or fresh. Within a short period, it creates a blanket-like cover. This cover prevents oxygen from penetrating the water while blocking carbon dioxide from escaping. As a result, fish experience challenges breathing, resulting in death or severe health conditions.

Luckily, there’s hope in preventing oil spills when fishing. First, ensure your boat engine doesn’t leak, and if it does, attend to the leakage before heading to the sea. Additionally, it’s vital to tighten the lids on your oil containers. Loose lids can easily allow oil to seep and spill on water.

Contain Your Waste

It’s common for fishermen to carry snacks and drinks when heading to the waters. While this is a personal decision, it might not be an excellent move, especially if you don’t have a dustbin in your boat. Many people will likely toss the wrappers and containers in the water. Since most wrappers aren’t biodegradable, they collect or pile up.

As a result, these wrappers contaminate water, affecting marine life. Therefore, if you must carry snacks and drinks when fishing, ensure you have a dustbin and have everyone on board use it accordingly. Otherwise, avoid bringing snacks on board.

Follow The ‘Good Fish Guide’

Many countries have guidelines stipulating the types of fish to catch and those to avoid. These guidelines provide relevant information on capturing the correct fish type and where to find it. The good fish guide is helpful to fishers and consumers looking to practice sustainability. Research whether your country has these guidelines and study them carefully to ensure you practice sustainable fishing.

Practice Catch And Release

The catch-and-release fishing technique involves just that. You capture the fish and return particular ones to the waters, allowing them another chance to live and reproduce. For example, while catching a big fish is an outstanding achievement, it might help if you release it instead of converting it into meat. This is because releasing such a fish allows it to mate and produce similar fish.

Nevertheless, you must learn how to practice this technique to avoid hurting the fish before releasing it. Some tricks used in this technique include using a circle hook, which is less likely to harm the fish gut, increasing its survival chances after the release.

However, not all fish should be released on the grounds of being large. If you catch an invasive specie, you shouldn’t release it since you’ll allow it to continue harming native fish. It’s, therefore, important to understand the native fish species in your area to know which fish to release and which you shouldn’t. For example, if flathead catfish is nonnative in your area, you don’t have a reason to release it. You should also report the presence of alien fish species to the concerned authority to contain the multiplication.

Use Every Part Of The Fish

After catching fish, you probably sell and leave some for yourself and your family. Once you get home, you clean the catch, cook it, and enjoy a sweet, nutritious meal. But do you eat the entire fish? Perhaps not.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean you should eat fish bones or turn them into ornaments, you can try to make them useful. One thing you can do with fish bones is to develop compost manure.

First, you need to gather fish bones and mix them with sawdust, wood chips, or other plant waste. The microorganisms will feed on the waste converting it into nutritious compost ideal for growing plants. The compost doesn’t produce any foul smell since the heat from the microbes does an excellent job of pasteurizing it.

Practice Purse Seining

This fishing technique involves casting the net over a group of fish and pulling the bottom of the net closed like a drawstring purse to trap the fish inside. Traps used in this technique are large and can catch a lot of fish simultaneously.

This technique is ideal for fish species that love to swim in isolation. Therefore, it’s a way to avoid bycatch. Furthermore, using nets specifically designed for large fish can prevent tiny bycatch, allowing them to grow and multiply.

Consider Spearfishing

This fishing method is ideal for catching larger fish like swordfish. During the fishing procedure, you use a spear or harpoon to catch your preferred fish. The spear or pike is thrown by hand. Since this fishing technique aims at a particular fish, you’ll unlikely harm unwanted fish.

However, spearfishing is among the slowest fishing procedures since it depends on your ability to aim at a fish. If your aim isn’t that good yet, you may spend a lot of hours trying to catch the amount of fish you need.


Practicing sustainable fishing can be challenging. However, your willingness to do something positive for the environment and your community can make a significant difference and help simplify the process. If you’re looking to practice sustainable fishing, consider the above-discussed tips.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

Recent Posts

outdoortroop-21 outdoortroop-20