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End Of The Line


This page represents my ramblings on various topics affecting marlin fishing and fishermen. Today's topic: time to see the light ...

In 1984, I killed a marlin. It was my first one, and I was very proud. In 1988, I killed another one. It was a big fish, and I was very proud. In 1991, I saw the light, both literally and figuratively. A dead marlin would never again make me proud.

On that particular day, I was fighting a nice striped marlin that was approaching leadering. As I saw the fish at deep color, it suddenly "lit up" in an explosion of neon blue. I saw the beauty of that display and I knew - I just knew - that I could never kill another marlin.

Visitors to this site quickly learn that it reflects my strong marlin conservation point of view. Lately, we've taken some heat for that position, and some have questioned the sincerity of our anti-kill views. So, to make everything as clear as possible, here are my views:

It is my personal opinion that there is no justifiable reason to deliberately kill a marlin.

That is as clear as I can make it. Note that I say it is a personal opinion - yours might be different. But I do not take this position arbitrarily, and I provide the following arguments to support my belief:

Marlin are not a food fish.

Some may dispute this, but I strongly believe that most if not all marlin that are killed are taken for their trophy value alone. While many are eventually utilized as food, it is a secondary use born of obligation rather than desire. Marlin might make an acceptable meal, but it is by no means the chicken of the sea. If eating marlin caused diarrhea as blue shark does, there would not be a significant decrease in marlin kills, as the trophy value would remain. But if there were no way to photograph, weigh or mount a dead marlin and its only value was as food, the number of marlin taken would drop to near zero.

Killing marlin eliminates the ability to send a valid message about commercial billfishing.

The effectiveness of tag and release has always been questioned because so few tags are recovered. In fact, there is very little data available about marlin at all, because they are a pelagic species with limited numbers. Practically all the marlin research in existence comes from a single source - commercial fishermen. Fishing commercially for marlin is prohibited in the United States. But gill nets and longlines in Japan and a handful of other countries kill huge numbers of marlin. More marlin are killed commercially worldwide in a single day than recreational marlin fishermen could kill in a year. That fact is often cited by those who support the killing of marlin when they say that the number of marlin they take is insignificant compared to those killed by commercial fishermen. All recreational fishermen decry the taking of marlin commercially. But those anglers who take marlin destroy the value of their protest. You cannot speak out against an action you practice yourself.

Marlin are special.

The first two arguments are based on logic, but this is strictly emotional and I will not apologize for it. Marlin are unlike any other fish in the ocean. Tuna and swordfish are memorable, but marlin are magic. No other fish has the marlin's combination of grace, beauty, power, and speed. To catch a marlin is unforgettable, and to feel the life return to one as you prepare it for release is absolutely spectacular. As the dominant species on earth, man has exercised his right to exploit the resources of the planet, often to the point of extinction. We can afford to be magnanimous and spare at least one species. That species should be marlin.

I will say this about the killing of marlin - you have the God-given, constitutionally protected right to disposition your catch however you choose, including killing it. I will support and respect that right. But I, too, have rights. I have the right to tell you that I think you are wrong, and tell you I will. If you are not embarrassed by your actions, then my comments should not bother you. If they do, they you probably are bothered by your actions as well, and you really ought to reconsider them.

Of course, in the course of the battle things happen. Marlin can be attacked by sharks, injured by propellers or simply just die. When that happens the only recourse is to humanely dispatch the fish in a regrettable but necessary killing. That's the reason we provide recipes here at SCMO. But it is a far cry from a fish killed for a photo, a flag, or a voting club membership.

If you agree with our viewpoint, that's great. SCMO is the right place for you. Joins us as we help to educate the world. If you disagree, that's fine, too - it's your right. But SCMO is still where you need to be. Read, participate and learn. Perhaps one day you, too, will "see the light."

Until next time ...

Tight lines and blind strikes,


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