A feature story from April/May 2015 Print Edition Volume 14 Edition 3 InTheBite The Professionals Sportfishing Magazine
A Reason to Kill
by Sam White
Over the last decade or so, the conservation pendulum has swung pretty far to the left when it comes to billfish. Post a photo of yourself with a dead marlin on Facebook and watch the negative comments come rolling in, sometimes by the hundreds. It doesn’t matter that the fish came up dead or that it was a world record or that it weighed over a thousand pounds and was later eaten by the locals—the haters and keyboard commandos line up around the block to shake their electronic fists and cry foul. Print a photo of a dead billfish in a magazine and for weeks the editor’s in-box is guaranteed to be flooded with hate mail and even subscription cancellations.
But what most folks don’t understand is what goes on behind the scenes—the whys and hows behind the kill. Here are some reasons for those dead fish on the dock.
For The Research
Any marine biologist worth their degree will tell you that the opportunities to examine a freshly caught billfish are as rare as hen’s teeth. So few marlin come to the dock that when one does arrive, it’s a reason to roll out the big guns of science. Certain things like stomach contents, the ear bones and anatomical structures like the eyes and reproductive organs just cannot be studied in live specimens, and yet this research is absolutely critical to learning more about these species. During just about every modified release tournament in the country, there are biologists standing by to take samples of any fish brought to the scales. In fact, Jim Motsko reports that during the White Marlin Open there are top scientists from all over the U.S. waiting to examine the white marlin that come in. The study of marlin on the dock has led to many new discoveries including several relating to roundscale spearfish and hatchet marlin versus true white marlin. The scientific impact is undeniable.
For The Publicity
When Kai Rizzuto landed his 1,058-pound blue marlin in February, he probably didn’t realize that within just a few days the story would be headline news around the world. It was picked up by CNN, Fox News and other national networks, whose headlines proclaimed that the 16-year old had bested a half-ton leviathan of the deep while fishing off Hawaii. And although the crew attempted to revive the fish, they were unable to do so.
“This fish came to the boat dead, upside down on its back, there was no chance of reviving it,” Jim Rizzuto said. “We try and release every blue marlin we can as a conservation measure, but sometimes in a hard fight the fish dies and there is nothing you can do.” Instead, the fish was treated with respect and taken to a local fish cutter, where the meat was distributed throughout the local community.
Do you think the catch would have made the national news had it been successfully released? No. We release big fish every week of every year, but because……………………………………….(To continue reading this article click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.