If the trout are lost, smash the state.  

That sentence has been lodged in my brain since my father slipped The Longest Silence under the Christmas tree when I was fifteen.  Ever since I’ve been a bit of a Tom McGuane nut, absorbing Ninety-two in the Shade, Gallatin Canyon, Crow Fair, and his many other books and pieces for sporting magazines.  He’s been recognized as one of the hands-down best angling writers of the past half-century, and last week he was honored with the American Museum of Fly Fishing’s Heritage award.

Win a skiff for science.

Since 1978, the Coastal Conservation Association has been partnering with anglers and agencies to protect valuable recreational fisheries and ecosystems along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts. One of their most recent initiatives is their Statewide Tournament Anglers Rodeo (STAR), a catch—photo-release tournament which tags redfish along the Florida Coast. Angler-reported tags provide vital information on population size, growth, mortality, and angler harvest. The incentive? Everything from trucks to boats to college scholarships and more, paid for by entry fees into the tournament. Learn more at the CCA STAR website.

A lesson in indirect benefits.

Conservation biologists call them charismatic megafauna- the big iconic critters that spur action among the general public.  Dolphins, elephants, tigers, rhinos, pandas- you get the picture.  Sport fish are often lumped in with these cute & cuddlies for the outsize interest they generate among stakeholders.  Anglers may not be interested in protecting a nondescript little fish like the Delta Smelt, but they’ll get on board conservation actions to protect the Pacific salmon using the same habitat.

Enter Ah Niu, a gentle giant trevally hanging around Taiwan’s Houbihu Conservation Area.  Over his two year residency Ah Niu became a local celebrity, by some accounts generated $20 million in indirect revenue and 50 jobs for the regional tourism economy.

Weigh that against the tackle dealer who illegally caught and killed Ah Niu, selling the carcass in the local market for a little over two grand.  Outraged residents and business owners are demanding prosecution.

When universes collide.  

Gyotaku’s is an ancient Japanese using ink to record one’s catch; think fishography instead of lithography.  It’s become pretty popular among angling circles in the past decade, with highly-skilled practitioners creating pieces from exotic fish species that can fetch hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

The San Antonio zoo’s put a new spin on gyotaku with their project Selva, designed to teach the technique to indigenous groups within the Peruvian Amazon.  Local indigenous anglers record their catch gyotaku-style using non-toxic ink so that the fish may still be consumed; the prints are sold through the San Antonio Zoo as a means to generate funds for the Peruvian tribes and to incentivise sustainable harvest of tropical fisheries.

Photo: Gyotaku print of native Peruvian fishes, image courtesy expressnews.com
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