It’s no secret that recreational fishermen love catching fish, but a smart angler is also concerned with protecting them and their species in the long term.

It might seem paradoxical, but it actually makes a lot of since; fishermen witness first hand the damage that happens to marine and river ecosystems when their fishing practices are not sustainable.

They see the negative effects of commercial overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction, and practically every other threat to life under water, and they are well aware that these issues endanger the very pastime that they love so much.

Luckily, you can love fishing and still be environmentally aware at the same time, as long as you adopt a sustainable mindset. If you fish for fun, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure that the fish you are angling for are around for decades to come. Here are some of the best sustainable fishing tips you can follow to do exactly that.

#1: Carbon Conscious Fishing

Climate change is a massive threat to all forms of aquatic life, be they in streams, rivers, dams or oceans. Warmer climates and increased extreme weather events are pushing many species of fish into new territories as well, which can disrupt your own fishing schedule and force you to travel further afield with every trip.

To do your part to combat climate change, you can reduce the amount of carbon that your boat puts into the atmosphere by replacing old propellers with stainless steel ones to reduce drag and installing electric fuel meters to monitor your fuel consumption. Go easy on your throttle, find a fuel-efficient cruising speed, and you have already done plenty to save the lives of the aquatic critters around you.

#2: Opt for Lead-Free Tackle

Lead is a highly toxic metal, and fish’s tissues absorb it quite readily if it is plentiful in the environment. The best way to help prevent this is to order lead-free fishing tackle and gear, which has many benefits over regular gear.

Lead free options will help to prevent muscular and neurological degeneration, paralysis, cancer, stunted growth and infertility in fish, as well as the deaths of countless eagles and loons.

#3: Catch and Release

There is wisdom to be found in a fisher who throws back a prize catch. If you throw them back, you are giving them a chance to live, mate, and produce equally prized offspring for yourself and other anglers to enjoy in the future.

Make sure to learn the techniques recommended by catch and release experts, including the use of a circle hook, which ensures that the fish you catch have the best chances of survival post-release. Of course, if you manage to hook an invasive species, it is actually recommended that you do not release them back into the ecosystem!

#4: Clean Up After Your Trips

People leave plenty of junk and litter on coastlines after fishing trips, which causes major issues for the local fauna and flora. Plastic debris in the water can also cause damage to boats by wrapping around their propellers, and cigarette butts and grocery bags can choke hungry animals.

Be sure to collect all of your waste, junk and gear before you leave for home – and if you are really committed to the environment, you can also pick up other people’s trash, too.

#5: Use Every Bit of Your Catch

Waste not, want not. If you decide to keep your catch to eat alongside a few rounds of online pokies NZ, be sure to use as much of it as possible.

As for the rest, you can compost it alongside plant waste like leaves, twigs, bark, wood chips and peat, which will turn it into a rich humus that is excellent for your garden. Fish roe makes for an excellent dip, and the bones can even be used to make a tasty fish stock before you compost them.