Perhaps you have looked at bowfishing and wondered how this type of fishing can help the environment. How do bowfishermen fit into the puzzle? We’re going to look at how bowfishermen have proven an asset for the local governments and what we can do to be more valuable as bowfishermen.
Controlling Invasive Fish Populations
In general, bowfishing means that you tend to target the rough fish or the fish that most of America sees as less desirable. This means that you go after the carp, the gar, the freshwater drum, catfish and suckers.
With that said, gar and alligator gar are a native fish species, so the positive effects on the environment are less than if you target things like local carp populations. The one thing about bowfishing for carp is that you don’t have a limit.
This fish species is highly destructive to the ecosystem in the United States, and they have been known to wreak havoc on local fish species, competing for food and resources. As the carp eats the aquatic underwater plants, it can make it harder for local fish populations to run from predators.
When you go bowfishing for Asian carp, you help to minimize the amount of ecological damage. I have seen bowfishermen who would load up an entire truck of carp in a single bowfishing trip. Meanwhile, you’re having a blast doing it.
How Carp Threaten Our Aquatic Ecosystem
Carp are not a native fish species to the United States, and they were first introduced to Midwest waters in the 1880s by Dr. Spencer F. Baird. Spencer had been receiving an estimated 2,000 letters per year on people who wanted to introduce carp to their private ponds. It turned out to be a dreadful mistake.
Some of the ways that carp have damaged the local environment include:
- Lowering water quality
- Outcompeting native fish species
- River bank damage
- Possible contribution to algae blooms
- Eating up of the local aquatic vegetation
Carp have the ability to quite literally take over an ecosystem, which is not in the best interests of anyone. It will reparably damage American ecosystems across the nation as native fish species cease to exist. In some cases, they have as the carp species overtakes them.
Bowfishermen help to slow down this takeover as they can take as many carp from the waters as they want. They can use that to put more food on the table, or they can simply do a good deed that will have a positive impact over the long term.
Environmentally Friendly Fertilizer
Not everyone likes the taste of carp, and in fact, in the United States, a lot of people dislike the taste of carp. That said, you don’t have to eat the fish that you shoot. You could instead compost them to turn them into a more environmentally friendly type of fertilizer with no added chemicals. Carp work well as fertilizer.
With that said, never simply bury your carp in the garden. Please. Carp are bottom feeders that eat everything, and if you choose to do it this way, the pollutants in the carp will go straight into your plants, making it less healthy to eat. It’s better than nothing, but it’s literally like eating from the garbage can.
If you want to turn carp into fertilizer, one of the best ways that you can do it is through first drying it out in the sun to lower the amount of stink. Then you will put it on the compost for further breakdown of the carp into nutrients. To learn more about the process, check out my article, “What to Do with Dead Carp?”
With that said, it’s a far more environmentally friendly fertilizer, which is another way that it can have a positive impact on the ecosystem.
Lowering Water Quality
Carp are known to lower the water quality. As this happens, it can kill off sensitive organisms that were crucial to the environment. To give an example, they can kill off freshwater mussels that are native to the lakes that we have.
This shows carp as bad because of how if they can manage to reach all our local lake systems, they could entirely replace our local fish species. We must address this problem so that we protect our waterways for future generations.
Damage to Regular Fishing
If carp are allowed to take over American waterways, they could damage the local fish populations beyond repair, and this will have an impact on fishing in the lakes for regular game fish. Raising awareness of the seriousness of the problem has been one of the keys to this. We must take it seriously.
In fact, rather than people looking down on bowfishermen, they should be thanking them. Taking these fish out of our waterways will sustain the health of them over the long term. Without taking out these fish, they would continue to grow and plague our environments. I have seen bowfishermen go away with entire truck fulls of carp, and they still haven’t been able to slow the spread of them. That should highlight the seriousness of this problem.
How to Be Responsible Bowfishermen
I always hamme on this value as bowfishermen to practice good ethics because while we can be incredible stewards for the local ecosystems of America, we can also do great harm if we don’t practice good ethics.
For example, please, don’t dispose of the carp shot at the boat landing. I’ve seen this disgraceful practice too many times, and it makes all bowfishermen look bad. If we want to make a difference in the world, we have to work on improving our image while raising awareness of the threat that carp pose to our local environments.
Encouraging other people to practice the sport of bowfishing can help to lower the impact that these fish can have.
Carp are bad because of how they harm our environment. If they can reach the Great Lakes, they will do irreparable harm to our environment. In addition, they spread like wildfire. A 13-pound carp can lay as many as 1.5 million sticky eggs, and this can wreak absolute devastation on our local environment.
As responsible bowfishermen, I mean that we use what we kill. You don’t have to necessarily eat the carp if you don’t like the flavor. You could give it to the neighbors, or you could turn it into fertilizer for your garden crops. You have several things that you can do.
Also, please, target the carp especially. These fish need to come under our control. You might go after the catfish or gar as a secondary fish, but in truth, gar are a native fish species to the United States, and they’re not even close to as dangerous to our environment as carp. They’re not dangerous at all to our environment, in fact.
In short, bowfishing is good for the environment because it helps us to control invasive rough fish populations that would otherwise run rampant and overtake the local species.
Not all rough fish are invasive, however. Giant alligator gar, for example, have become somewhat popular in bowfishing, but they don’t do harm to our local environment. In fact, they help to control the invasive Asian carp through eating them. That’s why there’s a limit of taking only two per day on alligator gar.