Here’s our take on the biggest fishing stories of 2013.
As the year draws to a close, us fishing enthusiasts are left glancing back at the past 12 months and trying to parse which news headlines will have the biggest impact on the future of our sport. From growing regulation trends to major headlines, 2013 was – like any other year – a busy one in the fishing world. We’ve collected some of the highlights below, but feel free to let us know what events you think deserved a place on this list.
Trend – States Requiring Anglers to Drain All Water from Their Boats
It seems like we should have started doing this a long time ago. After all, it has been proven that un-drained ballast water in boats is one of the leading causes in the invasive spread of zebra mussels. In 2013, led by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division, states and counties began cracking down on anglers and boaters in an attempt to stop the expansion. In Texas, boaters must drain all of the water aboard their vessels – from motors, bilges, ballasts, wells, and more – before entering certain waters. Expect similar rules to reach more areas of the cou7ntry in the coming years.
Ongoing News Story – The Death of the New England Fishing Industry
Are the glory days of the New England fishing industry in the rearview? That’s certainly how it seemed in 2013. For years, the government has been slashing the harvest limits for commercial fishermen in New England waters, and 2013 saw the situation reaching a breaking point. Many fishermen in the area have now sold their boats and moved on, unable – thanks to increasingly ludicrous regulations – to catch enough fish or make enough money to support their families. The biggest cuts came in the cod fishing sector, where limits were cut by 77 percent. But new guidelines for other common New England catches, such as flounder and haddock, have left the East Coast’s fishing scene in shambles.
Breaking News Headline – B.A.S.S. Angler Killed in Hotel Shooting
Shooting tragedies have sadly been all over the place throughout the past few years, and not even the serene sport of fishing was exempt from the issue. In October, B.A.S.S. angler James “Jimmy” Johnson was shot and killed at a motel during a competition weekend. Johnson was an ardent supported of Bassmaster events, both as a competitor and a volunteer. His killer was caught, but no explanation was ever given as to why Johnson’s shooter acted the way he did. The tragedy is a reminder to competing anglers that the locations they visit on tour – especially cheap motels – are not always safe. Let’s all make a vow to keep an eye out for one another in 2014.
Early Warning – Asian Carp Breeding in the Great Lakes?
In late October, scientists found that Asian grass carp had, for the first time, successfully bred in the Great Lakes. That could potentially be very bad news for the many illustrious fishing ports and industries that the Great Lakes currently support. Grass carp are one of four Asian carp species that were imported overseas decades ago and have been disrupting fishing ecosystems ever since.
Luckily, the grass carp is one of the less threatening carp species. However, the fact that grass carp have successfully made it to the Great Lakes and reproduced there shows that other more dangerous Asian carp species could do the same. If bighead or silver carp make it to the Great Lakes, it could spell disaster. Bighead and silver are the most worrisome species of carp due to their voracious plankton appetites which can disrupt entire aquatic food chains.