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The Value of Sustainable Resources, My Thoughts, My Opinion

By: Mark Romanack

The outdoor experience is priceless to many of us. There are lots of ways to measure the success of the experience. In the author’s opinion, measuring success by how many fish are kept is sending the wrong message.

​ I enjoy a fish dinner as much as the next guy. Catching and keeping a few fish for the table is something I encourage all fishermen to enjoy. Catching, processing and cooking a meal of fresh fish is the right thing to do on so many levels. Everyone should have a solid idea where their food comes from, but just as importantly, everyone should understand the concept of working with our leadership to establish sustainable natural resources.​​​

​Truth be told, I “catch and keep” far less fish these days than I used to. The fact I’m keeping fewer fish has nothing to do with a change of appetite, it’s more to do with a personal change of attitude.

​Living in Michigan where creel limits are exceptionally generous, I can’t help but feel guilty about the process of “keeping a limit” and the message it sends. For some years now, I’ve felt that our creel and hunting limits are overly generous and potentially dangerous.

​I can’t honestly say that our generous limits are depleting our fishing or hunting resources, but I’m completely convinced we have created generations of outdoor enthusiasts who measure their success on the water by how many fish they keep and their success in the field by how much meat is in the freezer.

​Looking at the big picture, the time we spend outdoors should not be measured by how many fish or game animals end up in the freezer, but rather by the quality of the experience. When I travel to other states who take a different approach to fish and game management, I’m constantly reminded that natural resource management is in the hands of the hunters and fishermen who’s license fees and excise taxes make it possible to access, manage and just as importantly “sustain” our natural resources.

Recently Fishing 411 TV was criticized by those who feel our television episodes potentially put too much pressure on delicate fisheries. We would like to remind our followers that fishing and keeping fish are two different things. We encourage selective harvest methods that allow anglers to enjoy some fish on the table without judging a day on the water by feeling obligated to keep a limit or fill the freezer.

​I’m also reminded that while fishermen and hunters are paying the bill to insure our natural resources thrive, a lot of other people benefit from those resources. Not to pick on any particular group, but why can kayak fishermen launch and fish from public access sites, yet they are not required to pay a vessel registration fee on their kayak? How come a mushroom hunter can access public lands and pick mushrooms without limits or paying a penny for this privilege? Why do hikers walk along snowmobile trails, but they are not required to purchase trail permits?

​I think modern times call for a more modern and holistic approach to resource management. An healthy environment that can sustain reasonable harvests of fish, game and flora has value to everyone who lives in a state, so why are only fishermen and hunters paying the bill? Does this system no lead to individuals who feel they are “owed” a return on that investment? Think about that one for a minute and you might better understand why I feel guilty keeping a limit of walleye, while others feel it is not only their right to do so, it’s their obligation to publish and promote their catch on social media.​

​Hey, I’m not out to ruffle any feathers, I’m just saying is okay to keep what you can use. Let’s also keep in mind that our natural resources aren’t there so we all can fill our freezers.


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