Conservation Lessons

Welcome to Casting for Conservation Children’s Tournament sponsored by Coastal Conservation Association Mississippi. Conservation is our middle name so we hope to make you aware of what it means to anglers of all ages. The marine environment and its inhabitants (fish, shellfish, grasses and the water itself) are fragile. CCA is devoted to protecting marine life. Conservationists love fish – and catching fish. However, we do not abuse our marine resources and work to make sure we leave this resource for YOU and YOUR children to enjoy. We do this by supporting federal/state policies and regulations that conserve our marine resources and being responsible anglers every time we are on the water. State/federal and other volunteer organizations represented here today share this commitment to be responsible users of our marine resources.

Lesson #1: Release all fish that do not meet minimum size as set by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources – and any fish you do not plan to eat. Every fish – including catfish and other strange looking creatures – have their place in the marine environment and should be returned to retake that place. Check the DMR publication “A Guide to Mississippi Saltwater Fishing: Rules and Regulations 2008-2009” for more information and guidance.

Lesson #2: Take steps to insure the survival of fish you release. Use Circle hooks instead of J or treble hooks. Circle hooks reduce gut hooking and hook fish in the corner of the mouth to allow easier release. When fishing deep water and bringing fish up with inflated bladders, use a venting tool (a syringe with the plunger removed – just like the needle the nurse uses to give you a shot) to deflate the fish and allow it to swim back to the depths. Handle fish that you will release with care – use a wet towel to reduce contact with the fish.

Lesson #3: Protect the marine environment by keeping trash contained and disposing of it properly on land. Plastics (bags, drink containers, etc) do not degrade and neither does monofilament line. When monofilament materials were used in gillnets, CCA worked to require biodegradable gillnets since lost or abandoned monofilament gillnets do not degrade. Most fishing lines are monofilament and should be discarded safely and not put in the water. DMR and its partners are making disposal containers available at many fishing and launch sites.

Lesson #4: Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD or life-preserver) whenever you are on a boat. PFDs save lives – but not YOU if you are not wearing one. Wearing a PFD is required in Mississippi for children 12 or under on a boat that is 26 feet or less and is underway (left its mooring). WE WANT YOU TO LIVE TO FISH ANOTHER DAY.

Lesson #5: Research – Research – Research. We know a lot about fish, where they live and reproduce, what they eat, and what puts them at risk. We always need to know more so we make wise decisions. Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is home to many researchers and future researchers.

Lesson #6: Have FUN on the water and fishing. Remember, it is called fishing; not catching. You learn by going fishing, sometimes catching and many times not. Learn Patience.

BE A CONSERVATIONIST. Join CCA’s New Tide Youth Division (www.joincca.org) and receive copies of Rising Tide.