Posts Tagged fishing

Apr 19 2017

CFOOD: New Study Sheds Light on Relationship Between Forage Fish, Predators, and Fishing

April 18, 2017 — The following was published by CFOOD. Founded by Dr. Ray Hilborn from the University of Washington, CFOOD is a network of scientists formed to study the science of fisheries sustainability, and to correct erroneous stories about fisheries in the mainstream media:

A paper published earlier this month shows a new understanding of how commercially fishing forage fish impacts forage fish predators like sea birds, marine mammals, and pelagic finfish.

Forage fish are small, silvery, bottom-of-the-food-chain fish that eat plankton and small invertebrates. They are eaten by seemingly everything in the ocean, providing “forage” for many other animals—you’ve probably heard of the two most common forage fish: sardines and anchovies. If asked their favorite marine species, not many people would choose a forage fish, but many would choose a forage fish predator: Penguins and puffins are endearing, dolphins and seals are adorable, and tuna and swordfish are delicious. Forage fish help sustain these populations, but are also favorite foods for many cultures.

With a high oil and protein content, forage fish are also the perfect species for conversion to fishmeal and fish oil. The largest fishery in the world, Peruvian anchovy, is such a fishery. Fish oil provides essential fatty acids and is sold in drugstores as a nutritional supplement. Fishmeal is food for several of our favorite edible animals. It is especially important in farmed fish production (like most of the salmon eaten in the US), but is also fed to terrestrial livestock like cows and pigs. Essentially, forage fish fisheries take a renewable resource and turn them into protein that people eat.

But how do these fisheries affect the marine predators that feed on forage fish? This is an important question that has only recently been investigated. A paperpublished in 2012 used mathematical models to estimate the impact of fishing forage fish populations on their predators and recommended that commercial reduction fishing be cut by 50-80% to ensure forage fish predators get enough food. However since then, several papers—including some by the authors of the original—have recognized that the models used in the 2012 research were not suitable for the questions asked, and further studies are needed.

The latest, Hilborn et al. (2017) published earlier this month (open access), shows that environmental variability, left out of the original models, is actually the most important factor affecting forage fish populations. Commercial fishing often has little effect on forage fish populations and their predators. Instead, ocean conditions and nutrient cycles (things humans have no control over) dictate how many forage fish survive each year.

The new paper also suggests that the relationship between forage fish and their predators is complicated by several factors. Forage fish predators often rely on specific, high-density locations where the abundance may be largely unrelated to the total abundance of the population. Basically, instead of predators relying on the total number of forage fish, they rely on forage fish appearing in certain locations, such as near breeding areas. Predators are also not singularly reliant on commercially harvested forage fish to survive—most consume a wide variety of prey. Indeed, Hilborn et al. (2017) found no link between larger forage fish populations and increases in predator populations.

Forage fish provide a wonderful service to humans. They are tasty, nutritious, and their harvest provides food for animals that we enjoy and eat, both above and below the surface. Understanding their ecological role is important to ensure sustainability.

Read the story at CFOOD | Watch a video about the study here

May 5 2015

Study of Central Coast marine reserves finds signs of fish recovery

Researchers say more time is needed for fish populations to flourish

MorroBayFishermensWharfTourists stop to watch fish being unloaded at the Morro Bay Fishermen’s Wharf.


Fish populations have shown signs of rebounding in state marine protected areas off California’s Central Coast, but more time is needed for them to flourish, according to a recent study conducted by Cal Poly and the California Sea Grant.

The study was published in March in Plos One, a peer-reviewed journal by the Public Library of Science.

The study examined the first seven years of monitoring of fish within four marine protected areas (MPAs) between San Francisco and Morro Bay.

Fishing within MPAs is generally prohibited or severely limited to allow refuges for fish species that are harvested commercially.

MPAs make up about 18 percent of the state water territory.

“These marine reserves are going to work, but they’re not a short-term solution for commercial fisheries,” said the study’s lead author, Rick Starr, director of the California Sea Grant’s Extension Program.

Starr said that fish populations go up and down based on environmental conditions, and they’ve not detected much difference in populations inside and outside the protected areas.

“In the seven years of data examined, we didn’t see much change that could be attributed to the MPA status,” Starr said.

That could be partly due to reduced fishing pressure through regulations in non-protected areas, the scientists said.

However, Starr believes more time is needed to assess the newer MPAs.

In comparison, the much older Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, protected since 1973, is thriving with an abundance of fish.

Cal Poly biological resources researcher Dean Wendt, a co-author of the study, said about 20 fish per hour can be caught recreationally in Point Lobos near Monterey — compared to about seven fish per hour in the MPAs Año Nuevo (north of Santa Cruz), Piedras Blancas (between Morro Bay and Monterey) and Point Buchon (near Morro Bay). That’s an indicator that the Point Lobos zone is far more populated.


A director with the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization, Jeremiah O’Brien, said that he has appreciated the collaboration between fishermen and scientists in the research.But O’Brien said he’s skeptical about the type of ocean management that blocks off large areas off the coast from fishing.

“These MPAs were mandated by many who know nothing about fishing and less about ocean issues,” O’Brien said. “There are many management tools available, and this is a poor choice. Seven years and there is no difference — one would think that there would be some noticeable change no matter how small.”

O’Brien, however, added that “we have a lot of respect for Dean Wendt, and he always tries to include commercial fisherman in his work.”

More research details

Starr and Wendt, who is dean of research in Cal Poly’s biological sciences department, coordinated with a team of marine researchers and more than 700 volunteer fishermen to sample fish within and outside of the protected areas.The scientists attribute the study results to several factors, including the longer life and reproductive cycles of cold-water California fish, including some that live to be more than 50 years old and can take several years to reproduce.

However, lingcod, which take 3 to 5 years to mature, have seen increases in population within the MPAs, Wendt said.

Fish recruitment — meaning how well local juvenile fish are surviving — is another factor.

In some years, conditions can be right for juvenile fish to significantly add to the population, while in other years ocean currents channel them farther out to sea, where they die. In El Niño years, juvenile fish don’t have enough to eat.

Rockfish recruitment is particularly sporadic, meaning it can be more difficult to gauge how well the MPAs are working.

The idea behind the MPAs is that eventually the protected zones will contribute to a “spillover” effect in which species move from the protected areas to surrounding ocean vicinities to help grow populations.

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Apr 21 2015

Sardine Assessment Shows Cyclic Decline in Population

Pacific sardines are known for wide swings in their population: the small, highly productive species multiplies quickly in good conditions and can decline sharply at other times, even in the absence of fishing. Scientists have worked for decades to understand those swings, including a decline in the last few years that led to the Pacific Fishery Management Council‘s The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer recommendation on April 13th to suspend commercial sardine fishing off the West Coast for the first time in decades..

An updated stock assessment The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer by NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) was the basis for the Council’s action. Stock assessments are research tools that estimate the status and size of the sardine population. The Council uses the assessments to set fishing quotas.

Models that support the sardine assessment combine NOAA data on past and current abundance of sardine eggs, larvae and mature fish with other data on sardine biology and fishery catches. The data on sardine abundance come from two SWFSC research vessel surveys conducted off the West Coast each year.

These surveys employ two methods to estimate the current size of the sardine population. They use underwater acoustic equipment (like sonar) to estimate the size of fish schools, followed by the use of trawl nets to verify the species comprising the schools. Additionally, the surveys employ devices that measure the density of sardine eggs in the water as a gauge of sardine spawning. Scientists can then calculate how large the spawning population must be to produce the measured density of sardine eggs.

These data feed a computer model to estimate sardine population trends and provide the foundation for projections of the total population of sardines off the West Coast in the next fishing year.

“The assessment produced this year suggests that cool ocean water temperatures off the West Coast beginning around 2007 may have reduced the survival of juvenile sardine resulting in a population decline”, said Kevin Hill, a fisheries biologist who oversees the stock assessment for the SWFSC. The number of surviving young fish appears to have dropped to the lowest levels in recent history and has likely remained low in 2014. This has led to a steady decline in the fishable sardine stock biomass, which is defined as the total volume of sardines at least one year old. This is the measure the Council relies on when setting fishing quotas.

“The environment is a very strong driver of stock productivity. If ocean conditions are not favorable, there may be successful spawning, but fewer young fish survive to actually join the population,” Hill said. “Small pelagic fish like sardine and anchovy undergo large natural fluctuations even in the absence of fishing. You can have the best harvest controls in the world but you’re not going to prevent the population from declining when ocean conditions change in an unfavorable way.”

The current decline adds to a series of ups and downs that illustrate the boom-and-bust nature of sardine populations. The sardine biomass rose from about 300,000 metric tons in 2004 to a high point of more than 1 million in 2008 and is predicted to decrease to an estimated 97,000 metric tons by this coming July.

Because of these swings in sardine populations, the Council’s management framework for sardines includes built-in mitigation measures and safeguards to exponentially reduce fishing pressure as the stock declines.  One of these Council measures is a cessation in directed fishing on sardines when the biomass falls below 150,000 metric tons. “The fishing cutoff point is included in the guidelines adopted by the Council and is designed to maintain a stable core population of sardines that can jump-start a new cycle of population growth when oceanic conditions turn around,” Hill said.

In the course of reviewing the 2015 updated assessment, it became evident that the final model used in the 2014 assessment did not correspond to the best fit to the data. The data were reanalyzed and a better fit to the 2014 model was achieved. This re-examination resulted in a lower 2014 biomass estimate of 275,705 metric tons, down from the previous estimate of 369,506 metric tons, which is still above the fishing cutoff value of 150,000 metric tons.

The revised model applied to the 2015 assessment resulted in a biomass estimate of 97,000 metric tons, which is below the fishing cutoff.  As a result, the Council decided to close the 2015-2016 sardine fishing season and requested that NOAA Fisheries close the remainder of the 2014-2015 sardine fishing season. The sardine population is presently not overfished and overfishing is not occurring; however, the continued lack of recruitment observed in the past few years could decrease the population, even without fishing pressure.

The NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada is currently conducting a new sardine survey off the West Coast to collect updated information on the size and location of the sardine stock. In addition, a large-scale 80-day survey this summer will collect data on sardine and whiting (hake) populations from the Mexican border to Canada. This new information will support the next stock assessment SWFSC prepares for the Council and NOAA fisheries managers.

Learn more:

Pacific sardine stock assessment
Executive summary The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer
Full report  The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer

In the Field: Spring Sardine Survey 2015
Pacific Fishery Management Council Coastal Pelagic Species The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer
California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI)
Video – Coastwide Sardine Survey

Green Seas Blue Seas – Interactive Guide to the California Current 

For more information, please contact: or (West Coast Regional Office Public Affairs), (Southwest Fisheries Science Center) and (West Coast Regional Office)

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Mar 13 2015

Trawling has “negligible” effect on soft-bottom

petralesolePetrale sole, a flatfish caught by trawling on soft-bottom seafloor. Credit: The Nature Conservancy

A groundbreaking new study recently conducted by California fishermen, The Nature Conservancy and CSU Monterey Bay indicates that bottom trawling only has a “negligible effect” on the seafloor and fish habitat in certain types of soft sea bottom.

Trawling is continually criticised by environmental advocates for the damage it causes to rocky marine habitats and the long-lived animals that occur in them. However, important questions remain about the extent of any damage to sandy and muddy environments.

During the three-year study, fishermen trawled patches of the ocean floor off Morro Bay. Those areas were analysed by underwater photos and video and compared with nearby areas that were untouched.

Their peer-reviewed work, published in the Fishery Bulletin, found that California’s largely soft-bottom seafloor saw little lasting impacts from trawling with a small-footrope trawl.

The researchers say that their study adds to a growing body of literature from around the world showing trawling impacts are context-dependent – the impacts depend on the type of gear used, the types of habitats trawled and how often trawling occurs.

The scientists point out that their study does not imply that all soft-bottom habitats should be open to trawling; but, with new research and technology, “we can fine-tune our fishery regulations to protect truly vulnerable habitats.”

One of the researchers, Dr. James Lindholm has been studying marine ecosystems for 20 years and this autumn he will conduct a similar experiment off Half Moon Bay using trawling nets of different sizes. Commercial fishermen will also be involved.

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Dec 12 2014

Dungeness landings likely down 50% in California, 40% in Oregon; lowest volumes in 8 years

Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM | by John Sackton December 11, 2014


The crabs are great.  Its just that there aren’t that many of them.

The Oregon Dungeness fishery opened on time on December 1st, after a short season in the San Francisco Bay area, called district 10.

But boats are simply not finding many crabs.

dungeness-estimateGraph: Seafood Datasearch, based on state and federal data

One fishermen, describing the northern California / Oregon fishery which opened December 1st, said “North of District 10 was the worst opener I can remember.  We knew it would be bad, but not this bad.”

Larger vessels that have the ability to move to other fisheries are now leaving the crab fishery, as the catch rates can no longer support their operations.

Meanwhile, the price at the dock has risen to $3.50, and most packers have extended that retroactively back to December 1st, when the fishery opened with an initial price of $3.10.

The upshot is that harvesters are now predicting the Oregon fishery to be down about 40% from last years 14.3 million pounds, and California is likely to be down 50%.

This means that coast wide, certainly for December and Janaury, it is looking like the lowest total landings for dungeness in the last eight years.

Hugh Link, Executive Director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, said fishermen keep records and know if they are up or down year over year, and that he definitely has the sense that there are fewer Dungeness crabs coming into pots this year, even though fish tickets are still being tallied from the first few days of the season.

Meat fill has been excellent, the fishery opened on time, and there was agreement on price. Only the crabs have not shown up.

The fishery is highly cyclical, so it is quite likely in a few years we will again be talking about heavy supplies of Dungeness.  But for this year, the section and crabmeat supplies will be very tight, and what crab is landed later in the year should be going mainly to the live market.

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Nov 9 2014

Morro Bay’s fishing industry reels in largest catch in 20 years

6.8 million pounds of fish landings were reported in 2013 in Morro Bay, up from low of 668,866 pounds in 2007, study of data from Department of Fish and Wildlife reveals

By Nick Wilson | November 6, 2014


The fishing industry in Morro Bay has regained its sea legs, bouncing back from a 20-year low in 2007 to post its largest catch by volume since 1993, according to an economic impact report released this week.

Lisa Wise Consulting Inc. compiled the study, which showed a boost in earnings of more than 300 percent from about $2 million in 2007 to about $7.1 million in 2013 — the latest year of data accumulated.

The report documents a rise in fish landings from a low of 668,866 pounds in 2007 to nearly 6.8 million pounds in 2013, the highest single-year landing total since the boom times of the early ’90s.

The report relies on figures documented under government regulations, including information provided by the fishing industry to the Marine Fisheries Statistical Unit at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This is the fourth consecutive year of the report, which was produced this year with $6,000 in funding provided by the Central California Joint Cable/Fisheries Liaison Committee. The Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization also partners in the project. “As fishermen, we have an understanding of the industry, but others often don’t,” said Jeremiah O’Brien, a member and past president of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization. “We do those reports to show people what’s happening.”

Lots of good news
The latest data shows a steady trend of increased earnings and landings, although the figures haven’t yet matched peak years of the 1990s, which topped 9 million pounds of landings in 1990 and eclipsed 10 million in 1993.

In 2008, the city of Morro Bay paid for an economic study that predicted a change from a once-thriving fishing industry to a primarily recreational fishing and boating area.

However, the city has since recognized the recovery of the commercial fishing industry, which “should continue to play a significant role in the social and economic future of Morro Bay,” staff members wrote in a recent report.

One of the factors that contributed to the decade-long decline in Morro Bay’s fishing industry — in additional to environmental closures and restrictions of fishing in certain ocean areas — occurred in 2006 with the purchase of Morro Bay’s fishing quota.

The Nature Conservancy bought out Morro Bay’s entire trawl fishing industry in 2006 with the goal of protecting and growing fish populations while limiting fishing.

About eight trawlers left the business, which exacerbated the decline in landings in those years, O’Brien said.

Since that time, the local industry has steadily improved, and earlier this year, the Conservancy transferred the quotas to the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund, which manages the fishing quota and leases fishing permits to local fishermen, who may trawl under specified environmental restrictions such as avoiding trawling in coral reef areas.

How the catch evolved
While the overall catch and earnings have climbed in recent years, landings of certain species have declined along with closures and regulations on uses of fishing equipment.

The salmon catch, for example, dropped to 45,000 pounds in 2013, from around 200,000 pounds per year in much of the 1990s.

And halibut, which must be fished outside of three miles from shore, has remained low for the past decade with a total of about 10,328 pounds landed in 2013 compared with takes of more than 40,000 pounds in the early 1990s.

But other species — including Dungeness crab and squid — have spiked.

Crab accounted for 17 percent of 2013 earnings in Morro Bay, climbing to a 20-year high of more than 300,000 pounds in landings.

There were 170,000 pounds of crab caught in 2006, which was the previous high in the past two decades. There was little to no crab caught between 2008 and 2011.

“The last couple of years we’ve seen a lot more crab,” O’Brien said. “Crab is typically cyclical, and we’ll have bigger catches usually about every six years. But they’ve been spawning in big numbers the past three in a row.”

The squid catch has also swelled, with landings of more than 4 million pounds in 2013.

That total hasn’t been matched since 1993, the only other year in the past two decades to top 4 million pounds of squid.

O’Brien said that a couple of fishing boats have made the investment in catching large numbers of squid along the Central Coast, which has kept squid processing companies from Watsonville and San Pedro, the closest around, returning to Morro Bay because it’s worth their while.

Another factor in the boom in local crab and squid fishing has been a trending preference for the seafood in China, where local buyers are shipping their products.

Local fishermen including Bill Blue have seen their sales of live crab, transported to China, significantly boost income over the past few years.

Like fellow anglers, Blue fishes for a variety of species, including black cod, but the high price that crab fetches in China is too lucrative to pass up.

“It’s good for business, but sad in some ways because you don’t see as many local restaurants buying crab because of the high price (driven by the Chinese market),” Blue said. “That means local people can’t go and get them as easily.”


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Nov 1 2014

Eastern Pacific bluefin tuna catch to be cut 40 percent to 3,300 tons

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Jiji Press] – October 31, 2014posted with permission of Seafood News.

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, comprising a total of 21 countries and regions, has decided to tighten controls on bluefin tuna fishing in the eastern Pacific.

The decision was made at a special session of the commission in La Jolla, Calif., on Wednesday, according to Japanese officials.

Bluefin tuna catches in the ocean region will be reduced by 40 percent from the 2014 level to 3,300 tons in both 2015 and 2016.

The commission also set a nonbinding goal of cutting the proportion of young tuna weighing less than 30 kilograms in total catches to 50 percent.

The nonbinding goal was set as a compromise after Mexico opposed a Japanese proposal for halving annual catches of young tuna in and after 2015 from the average level between 2002 and 2004. In the central and western Pacific, including waters around Japan, the halving of young tuna catches has already been agreed.

Mexico has developed a tuna ranching sector dependent on capture of juvenile tuna used for growout.


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Oct 25 2014

$quid Inc. 2014 — Video by Jason Crosby

squidVideo by Jason Crosby (YouTube).

Squid fishing in Monterey Ca. Lots of boats, lots of squid.

Sep 13 2014

Squid fishing debuts on North Coast

timesstandardlogoPosted:  09/11/2014 11:21 PM

Squid fishing boats docked in Eureka for the first time Thursday, unloading 124,000 pounds of squid at the Fisherman’s Terminal.

Commercial squid fishermen from Southern California were drawn to the North Coast by following squid that were driven out of their typical habitat by a rise in ocean water temperatures, said Jeff Huffman, Eureka dock manager with Wild Planet, who helped to facilitate the docking and unloading of the squid boats.

With few squid left in their typical fishing zones this year, Southern California Sea Food, Inc., has been moving up the coast. On Wednesday, two boats fished in the area between the mouth of the Mad River and the False Cape, south of the Eel River, bringing the first boat into the dock at 2 a.m. Thursday and the second at 7:30 a.m., Huffman said.

“The squid fishery has always been a Southern California fishery, but because of the  warm water down south the squid are all up here,” he said. “There have always been some squid here, but not in these numbers.”

Unusual patterns in the Pacific Ocean have shifted water temperatures, creating unusually warm water both to the north and south of California’s North Coast, said Eric Bjorkstedt, research fishery biologist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and an adjunct professor in Humboldt State University’s fisheries biology department.

The temperatures have not grown warmer off the Northern California coast, which appears on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maps that track water temperatures as one of the only places along the West Coast that does not appear dark red — the color that indicates warming waters.

While this is not a typical El Nino year, Bjorkstedt said some patterns are consistent with the weather phenomena’s conditions.

“Normally in an El Nino, market squid do very badly — usually the catches go nearly to zero,” he said. “The reproductive success is not high, and the squid industry basically crashes for that year.”

Squid populations could be shifting north because of a change in water temperatures or shifting closer to shore because they are following a shift in nutrients and food supply, said Jeffrey Abell, chairman of HSU’s oceanography department.

Shifts in weather patterns and climate causes water temperatures and ocean nutrients patterns to change, he said.

“It manifests the shifts in ocean circulation, which alters the input of nutrients into the ecosystem, and then the organism responds to that and moves into a range where it is not usually found,” Abell said.

Either way, there is an unprecedented number of squid off the North Coast, Huffman said.

Southern California Sea Food, Inc., hopes to bring in 300 tons of squid every 24 hours, and the squid is then transported in trucks to Monterey, where it is processed at a company plant, he said.

Huffman added the company is limited by the number of squid that they can process, unload and truck, but not by the amount of squid in the bay.

“I think they can definitely catch more than we can actually get through the place and shipped out,” he said.

By Sunday the company will have five boats in the area, and they are hoping to continuing fishing here for two to three weeks, Huffman said.

Having the fishermen in town will be a boost for the local economy, he said, as the crew of more than a dozen people stays in local hotels, eats, shops, buys fuel and pays for moorings at the marina.

“This is a great plus to the whole waterfront and the town,” Huffman said.

The goal of the Fisherman’s Terminal was to bring in this type of business, he said. The dock is typically used for processing crab, salmon and some other fish, but being able to unload squid there adds another avenue for profit.

“It is a unique opportunity for the city to use its loading dock. Normally this isn’t something that we get to do,” said Eureka Councilwoman Marian Brady.

“It is all money that is coming back into our economy,” she said. “We definitely need industry, and this is a form of commerce that uses our bay for its purpose. We built all this infrastructure, and it hasn’t been used optimally.”

The city is working on plans to get a cold storage facility in town to keep even more of the business local, she said. All the squid is currently being taken out of town to be processed.

“But these three to five ships that are in here, that is adding a spurt to our economy,” she said.

This is a positive development for the economy and the city, said Ken Bates of the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association.

“This activity at Fisherman’s Terminal is exactly the kind of thing we were hoping to see in Eureka when this facility was built,” he said. “It’s exciting.”


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Sep 9 2014

How Fishing Makes You A Better Person (According To Science)


Fishing is one of the most accessible outdoor sports. Nearly anyone, no matter age, income level or even fitness ability, can easily participate. And the sport is no longer the boys’ club it was once thought of either. Of the 46 million Americans who fish today, over one third of them are women, according to a new report released by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. There’s also growing age and ethnic diversity within the sport.

Whether they grew up heading out onto the lake every Sunday with Grandpa or are one of the millions trying the sport for the first time every year, those who fish have a direct connection to health and well-being. Here’s how fishing can help you lead a happier, healthier life.

Fishing can keep you physically fit.
While fishing itself isn’t necessarily going to get your heart rate up, many of the best fishing spots require a bit of paddling, biking or hiking to reach, all of which have proven cardiovascular benefits. “You can make your fishing excursion as physical as you want,” Janna Superstein, president of fly fishing company Superfly International Inc., tells The Huffington Post. She stresses, however, that you don’t need to be incredibly active to participate. “Even just getting out there, you’ll still get the benefits of the outdoors and maybe that’s the beginning of a new fit, healthy lifestyle,” she says.

Of course, just spending time outside is good for your body and your brain. The outdoors gives us plenty of vitamin D (but don’t forget the SPF!), makes us happier and helps us age gracefully.

Fly fishing — a specific type of fishing that incorporates artificial “flies” and a weighted line — may also help women with breast cancer recover. Groups like Casting for Recovery combine breast cancer education with the sport as a form of support, therapy and exercise. Casting for Recovery’s site says that the gentle motion of fly casting resembles exercises often prescribed after surgery or radiation to promote soft tissue stretching. The group is designed for women of all ages in all stages of treatment and recovery.

Fish are an excellent source of nutrition.
fish dish
While not all who fish keep what they catch, those who do may be in for some bonus benefits. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may decrease blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke and heart failure. They could also reduce irregular heartbeats and improve brain function in children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to heart and brain health, research shows that eating fish can save your eyesight, decrease the risk of asthma, protect your skin from UV-rays and cut your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis in half. Some research suggests that eating a fish-heavy diet could even help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Eating fish could help you live longer.
All of that healthy eating pays off. Some credit the long lifespan of the Japanese to a fish- and veggie-heavy diet. Japanese women have the longest life expectancy in the world, at 87 years, according to the World Health Organization. And while men in Japan aren’t quite as lucky, they do live to an average age of 80.

Fishing may reduce stress.
fishing pole
Many fishermen (and women!) would agree that the gentle lapping of waves and tug on a fishing line is enough to push any stress far from the mind. “Just doing the activity relieves pressure and creates sense of excitement,” Frank Peterson, president and CEO of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, tells The Huffington Post.

Of the nine percent of Americans currently considering taking up the sport, 38 percent of them are interested in it as a means of relieving stress, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation report. In a country where 80 percent of us report feeling even more stressed or equally stressed each year and only 37 percent of us actually think we’re doing a good job at managing it, finding a way to relax is vital to our mental and physical health.

For many, a day of casting line is the answer because research shows that focusing on any one activity at hand can be a fast track to stress reduction. “When you’re fishing, you have to be mindful,” Superstein says. “You have to be present in order to observe what’s happening with the fish and catch them.”

The sport may decrease symptoms of PTSD.
The combination of mental relaxation and an easy form of exercise could also help those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. A 2009 study shows that fishing can lower PTSD symptoms and increase the mood of those who suffer from the disorder. After three days of fly fishing, participants reported a 32 percent reduction in guilt and a 43 percent decrease in feelings of hostility. The feeling of fear was also reduced by 30 percent, and sadness dropped by 36 percent. A portion of these positive effects remained even a full month after the fishing retreat.

Plus, it helps you unplug.
pool of fish
Some of the mental benefits of fishing may be thanks to the opportunity it offers for us to unplug from our digital lives and enjoy nature. Sure, many love to snap shots of their big catches for various forms of social media or to print off and frame the old-fashioned way — “Before there were selfies, there were ‘fishies’,” says Peterson. And 50 percent of us use technology — whether for music, pictures or GPS — when participating in outdoor activities, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. But overall, fishing offers a way to cut back on screen time. “It gives us a chance to unplug from daily lives and plug into something completely natural,” Superstein says. “We can then recharge our batteries in a natural way.”

Interested in taking up the sport yourself? So you’re ready to feast on a fresh catch. Luckily, it’s easier to start fishing than you may think. We talked to an expert to find the best tips for beginner fly fishers:

  • First, get rid of the misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, fly fishing isn’t only done for trout in mountain streams. According to Superstein, you can actually do it in saltwater, lakes, ponds and rivers.
  • Invest in a starter kit. If you’re a total newbie, look into buying a starter kit that includes a rod, reel, line and flies. Some even come with the necessary knots already tied. And don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune, Superstein says. “Spending more money on gear doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to catch more fish.”
  • Ask the experts. From weather to season to type of fish, there are so many variables to take into account that Superstein cautions against sticking to any hard and fast rules for catching more. Instead, check with people who know the area. Ask fellow boaters, workers at the bait shop or members of local fishing clubs for the best spots to fish and the best type of bait or fly to use.
  • Explore the waters close to home. There’s no need to venture into the depths of the woods or up a mountain to a small trout stream. Fishing is likely more accessible than you think. You can fish in the heart of downtown Chicago or on the Hudson River in New York City and still get the benefits of nature while living in an urban setting, Superstein says.
  • Go whenever you can. While some only fish in the early morning and others swear by the first thaw of spring, Superstein warns against letting these restrictions hold you back. If you want to fish, go fish. “To quote my father,” she says. “‘The best time to fish is whenever you can,’ because for the most part, it’s not about the fish, it’s about getting out on the water.”

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