IN WHAT maybe a global first, a conservation organisation is conducting three surveys on recreational fishing baits and sustainability.

Each baits survey is aimed at a different audience: anglers, bait producers and freshwater fishery managers.

The online baits survey by Fish 21 can be completed by anyone up to October 1. Then the results will be analysed and a report published in the autumn.

Dr Stuart McLanaghan, who runs Fish21, explained: “Fish caught to make fishmeal and extract fish oil currently represent one-third of the global fish harvest.

“For example, krill are extremely important to the food chain in marine ecosystems and make up the largest part of the diet for many marine animals – from small fish right up to baleen whales.

“Sourcing that is responsible and sustainable is equally important irrespective of whether seafood / fish are sourced for human consumption, or used in pet foods and angling baits.”

Dr Stuart McLanaghan is behind the baits survey.

Dr Stuart McLanaghan is behind the baits survey.

He continued: “It is increasingly recognised that businesses overall have an important role to play in delivering more environmentally-friendly production and consumption, otherwise society will not be able to contain climate change; resources will become increasingly scarce; and ecosystems further damaged.

“For all manufacture this means making products which minimise negative environmental impacts during both production and use.

“Maintaining sustainable target fish populations remains the number one priority for the angling sector. This requires, for example, good water quality and healthy aquatic habitats.

“So, the first thing to think about is the baits themselves. For example, is the bait fully digestible by fish and other aquatic life, or does it create undigested remains which could potentially negatively affect water quality and fish health?

“On the other hand, baits could go beyond simply attracting fish and better supplement their natural diet, contributing to healthy weight gains which increase a fishery’s asset value, as well as benefiting broader aquatic life.

“Another question to ask is whether or not the baits and ingredients themselves are responsibly sourced (e.g. whether seafood is supplied from a certified sustainable fishery).

“It is also important to consider if the sourcing, production, packaging and distribution processes can be redesigned to minimise environmental impacts like using readily recyclable packaging materials.

“Many of these issues haven’t generally been considered, publicly at least, by recreational fishing bait producers.

“These surveys are just intended to inform the current position with regard to baits and their use, and hopefully provide a useful starting point for further discussion.

“Whilst groundbaits are included in the surveys’ scope, hard/soft plastic lures are excluded. All comments will be treated in the strictest confidence,” Stuart added.

Tackle shop and carp fishery owner Neville Fickling commented: “There isn’t any real evidence of fishing baits like boilies harming fish and the ingredients are all basically natural although I have heard concerns about what preservatives are used.

“Some manufacturers are starting to list the contents on the packaging.

“There is an issue about the sourcing of fishmeal for pellets but it is the fish farms that use substantially more of these than anglers.

“The farmers are aware of the criticism of their impact on the environment and work is going on by the manufactures to reduce the actual fishmeal content of the pellets. Substitutes like chicken feather meal and other by-products of meat production are increasingly being employed.

“The content has changed already in my lifetime,” Neville added.

YOU can complete the survey here >>


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