TOURNAMENT FISHING PRESSURE UNSUSTAINABLE ON SLOW-GROWING FISH SPECIES
Sept. 26, 2006, Bert Schramm, San Diego, Calif:
I have been reading the fish reports for ever; it gives me the opportunity to see how the action is along Baja. My father brought me up spending all our summer and free time at all points along the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. One of the things that I have seen along the way is the higher amount of fishing pressure on the various species that are found inshore and offshore.
When I was 8 years old or so, back in 1963 we were once in San Felipe and I remember a palapa type of building right on the beach and it had sacks and sacks of fish all over and 20 to 30 green sea turtles tied on poles that were destined for the evening diners and weekend beach parties. The sight of sea turtles are few compared to back then and the fishing in San Felipe is, as you know, not that great anymore.
As a fisherman, I enjoy keeping a few good fish for the campfire and hopefully be lucky enough to take some fish home with me. But the reason I am writing is because after seeing this week's fish report, September 25, 2006, I was disturbed by the sight of the fish caught at the tournament at Punta Abreojos-La Bocana, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Being from San Diego, I once had a chance to walk through the picture gallery at the Hotel Del Coronado and was amazed at some of the fish that have been caught in the last 100 years right in the area of the hotel. When you see the giant grouper and sea bass that were once caught in the early 1900s you will find amongst them a picture of the former president Teddy Roosevelt standing next to a grouper and a bass taller than him. These kinds of fish take a long long time to grow to that kind of size. Fish like this no longer exist. As you walk through time looking at the pictures, the fish get smaller and smaller every few years. Eventually there are no more pictures as the fish are nothing to write home about.
The pictures of black sea bass that are in the 140 pound to 180 pound range caught at the Punta Abreojos-La Bocana tournament is something that is not supportable. It is a very limited resource that will just disappear just like the large grouper and sea bass of San Diego.
A fishing tournament for fish like Dorado that have a life span of not much more than 5 years and grow at a very fast rate is a much better option for a tournament. I know that the fishermen in the tournament must have had a fabulous time. But it is important to remember that some fish take decades to grow. Eventually you will only catch smaller and smaller fish. I am not saying don't fish them, but organized tournaments put a very high level of pressure in and around a particular known habitat area. Thus in this kind of fishing, every poor fish that is looking for a meal will find a hook.
I am not a radical preservationist but just someone that has fished all my life and has seen the fish size and variety reduced from times past. The reduction comes from commercial fishing and higher numbers of sportfishing boats on a daily basis. I want everyone to enjoy Baja and take their kids and friends fishing but let's not take all the large old fish at one time by tournament fishing of species that cannot support that level of pressure.
(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for Mexico coastal areas may be found at Mexfish.com's main Mexico page.