The importance of Fishing Conservation Policy and Practices

By Andy Whitcomb

Jan 16, 2018

A fishing conservation policy is set by several agencies with a goal of providing a sustainable fishery for anglers.

A fishing conservation policy is a strategy of rules and regulations with a goal of sustainable fisheries management.  Because all aquatic systems are complex and continually changing, fish conservation practices and methods fluctuate as well.

Guidelines of a fishing conservation policy are set and enforced by various organizations and agencies such as at the federal level, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Within those parameters, each state has its own set of regulations. Additionally, private entities may have an additional set of rules.

For example, bass tournaments follow not only state regulations, but must enforce their strict specific fish conservation practices to be able to continue a format of weighing bass on the stage for an audience.  Some of the best catch and release practices are exhibited by Bassmaster tournaments with artificial lures only, brief fights to lessen fish stress, and significant scoring penalties if bass are injured. The Major League Fishing tournament series even penalizes anglers if a bass touches the boat or is released at a height above the gunwale. 

Another critical part of a fishing conservation policy is a historical baseline.  By gathering water quality and fisheries data, managers have a better chance of determining trends on fish populations. Every fish sampling method has a degree of bias for a size, species, area, etc. so several sampling methods must be collected. The goal is to learn key information about factors such as growth rate, forage base, and spawning habitat not only to determine trends but to try to forecast and stay ahead of any aspect that is detrimental to fish conservation.

A fishing conservation policy and fish conservation practices attempt to maintain both quality fishing for anglers and a sustainable harvest production of each fishery. Therefore regulations vary not only by state but often by bodies of water within a state. It is important that every angler follows these fish conservation practices which may change from year to year such as harvest size, quantity of fishing rods per angler, or type of bait so that everyone can continue to enjoy a great fishing experience. And don’t forget:  Funds from your fishing license fittingly go right back to fish conservation efforts, such as fisheries management and fish conservation methods!

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.