I have used examples concerning saltwater species, but equally important issues confront the freshwater angler.
Pollution, and particularly acid rain, have destroyed thousands of lakes and rivers that once provided good fishing. There are no fences in air space that can keep out the clouds of pollution, so we’re all vulnerable.
We think of the Scandinavian countries in terms of pristine environments, mountain lakes and winding, pastoral streams, but they have suffered massive losses. Norway, as an example, has lost total fish stocks in approximately 5,000 lakes! More than a third of her rivers have critical loads of acid rain! And more than 90 percent of the acid rain that falls over Norway originates in other countries.
The symbiotic effect of pollution, commercial fishing and disease has destroyed most of the great Norwegian salmon rivers. Years ago, I enjoyed fishing Norway’s Driva River when it yielded lots of big salmon. A few years ago, I was saddened to hear that there were only several dozen salmon on the spawning beds; but last year, I do not believe any were sighted. Today, only the venerable Alta and perhaps three or four other rivers are considered above average in Norway.
In United States and Canada there are constant problems with Native Fishing Rights. Illegal netting of salmon by Canadian Natives on the Restigouche and other great Atlantic salmon rivers have been well chronicled. The same applies for the salmon and steelhead trout on the Pacific side.
A portion of Alaska’s Lower Talarik Creek–which includes the pool that might have the world’s largest rainbow trout–was taken over by a Native American family because of a treaty. The family planned to make this section private and develop it. Nature Conservancy and Orvis are campaigning to buy the family’s rights at a cost of more than $350,000. Does this example signal the fate of other waters? Or is this an example of how we must work together to save a river and its precious commodities?
Some Native Americans in Wisconsin insist on spearing giant walleyes on their spawning beds out of season at night.
There are hundreds more examples of troubled waters, but these will illustrate the fact that sportfishing and fish have critical problems that need solutions.