A plan for the ethical and honorable treatment of fish

Our fisheries are being mismanaged. House Bill 353 is not the answer.

I am a commercial fisherman who believes fish are gifts from God that should be treated with respect. …

We could make wise use of God’s gifts by almost eliminating the regulatory discards that waste our resources, destroy our businesses and restrict the public’s access to local seafood. Please consider the following proposals with an open heart and mind.

Remove all size limits. Would Jesus have discarded dead and dying fish because Caesar said they were too small? Many of the undersized fish slowly die from stress, infection and decompression damage after being discarded. How sad and wasteful is that?

Set annual quotas on all recreationally and commercially targeted species. Existing quotas could be increased by about a third if our fishery managers didn’t force us to discard and waste literally tons of undersized fish every year.

Properly manage the quotas with split seasons, bag limits for recreational fishermen and trip-poundage limits for commercial fishermen. The possession limits should be set high for the first 75 percent of the seasonal quotas and be adjusted to a level that would fill the seasonal quotas without any long closures for the remaining 25 percent. Catch-and-release limits should be set at twice the legal bag limits to avoid waste.

These commonsense solutions would allow fishermen to keep what they catch until the possession limits are met. We could make wise use of every fish and count all of them against the quotas. Our fishery managers could turn their attention from creating one bad law after another to collecting accurate data for the proper management of quotas and possession limits.

We should set aside some of the quota for citizens who cannot catch their own fish or afford to buy it. Recreational fishermen could donate any unwanted fish to the less fortunate.

The fish police could lay down their guns and pick up fillet knives to clean fish for the needy.

— Chris McCaffity
Moorehead City

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