Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


November 2009 cover image bicycle riding at Big Bend Ranch State Park

Skill Builder: Green Around the Gills

It’s easy being green, especially when you’re fishing.

By Scott Sommerlatte

We often hear the term “green” used to signify a healthier environment or the movement to clean up the world we live in. While anglers have been instrumental in working on better stewardship of the environment, we are still part of the problem. How do we become “greener” and continue to lead the way toward a cleaner environment?

One of the most obvious first steps is to reduce emissions. For many, that means repowering your boat with a more ­fuel-efficient motor, making the move from an oil-burning two-stroke motor to a cleaner-running four-stroke motor, or even both. Another option is to fish more and burn fuel less. Just running a smaller boat helps because you don’t need a big V8 truck or an SUV to tow it to and from your favorite fishing hole.

Some anglers might consider running an electric trolling motor, but while they do not burn fuel and pollute the air and water, they are far from being “green.” The disposal of used batteries is a concern, as deep-cycle batteries use lead and form toxic waste. Options for reducing this type of waste range from spending extra money on a quality glass-mat battery that will last longer (reducing the number of batteries needing disposal) to utilizing a push pole instead of a trolling motor to propel a boat through shallows and along shorelines, where the fish lurk.

Purchasing gear manufactured in the United States can also reduce emissions and toxic waste. Companies here are more likely to adhere to higher standards when it comes to the disposal of waste generated through the manufacturing process, while some overseas manufacturers have fewer regulations governing them. Consider also the amount of fuel used to ship all of those products from there to here. Remember, the point is to make the whole world a cleaner place, not just our own backyards.

There are other things that anglers can do to promote a healthier environment. Instead of filling an ice chest with fish, keep fewer fish and make the most of the meat. Daily, I watch anglers quickly and haphazardly run an electric fillet-knife along the backbone of a redfish or trout, and then immediately toss the carcass into the water. Quite a bit of meat goes to waste. Instead, try cutting out the meat in the throat or even saving the backbone to cook the meat off it — you can make a great fish salad and create stock to use for soup or gumbo.

Whether you recycle fishing line, use brass or tungsten sinkers instead of lead, or even wooden bobbers instead of plastic — it all helps create a cleaner environment, which in turn creates a healthier ecosystem. Down the road, our children and grandchildren will have the same — if not better — quality of fishing we enjoy today. I don’t know about you, but I am all for being “green.” It’s easy!

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