Bowfishing is one of the hottest sports in the outdoor world, and the number of participants is rapidly growing.
It combines bowhunting and fishing into one sport, which is an outdoorsman’s dream. On the other hand, many people, particularly non-hunters, want to know why bowfishing even exists.
How could this sport even be legal when many of the fish aren’t used for anything more than fertilizer or catfish bait?
The truth is bowfishing is good for the ecosystem.
An ecosystem is made up of all living organisms interacting together in their environment. When the environment is changed, the ecosystem changes and can be destroyed along with the animals living in it.
In the U.S., carp (the most common bowfishing species) is considered a “rough fish” and is destructive to native species. It is listed as one of the world’s “100 Worst Invasive Species,” and can repopulate at an alarming rate. A single carp can lay over one million eggs in a single year.
As bottom feeders, many species of carp destroy and disturb vegetation, which causes serious damage to other fish populations. The vegetation the carp consume is not completely digested, and it rots after excretion.
This raises the nutritional level of the water and causes excessive algae growth. Carp can severely alter the environment of the water they live in and negatively affect waterfowl as well.
With very few natural predators, carp thrive in many bodies of water throughout the U.S.
Another common bowfishing species is the stingray, which is found along the eastern shores of Maryland and in Florida, among many other U.S. coastlines.
Stingrays take a heavy toll on oyster and blue crab populations. Oysters are natural filters for the waters they reside in, and stingrays feed heavily on the oyster beds.
Bowfishing targets invasive and destructive fish species, working towards creating cleaner waters and keeping populations in check.