Circle Hooks to Preserve Tradition
Circle hooks, when properly used,
ease out of a fish's gullet and lodge themselves against the jaw,
usually in the corner of the mouth.
A fish stands a better chance of surviving if you hook it in the
jaw. This is important consideration especially if you going to
practice catch and release. You want that fish to survive, thrive,
grow, and reproduce. Since circle hooks usually hit home in the
corner of a fish's mouth, they can help you to increase the odds
of a fish's survival.
Circle hooks offer other advantages too. According to circle hook
evangelist Kurt Kawamoto, anglers in the Hawaiian Islands often
come into close contact with turtles and monk seals. These protected
species are, now and again, accidentally hooked. “The occasional
... interaction with a seal or turtle could potentially pose large
impacts on our island fishing activities, traditions, lifestyle,
and culture." Kawamoto, the manager of the NOAA Barbless Circle
Hook project, notes. "Modifying the standard circle hooks by
crimping down the barbs to help out any accidentally hooked seals
and turtles could potentially help them to help themselves."
Kawamoto had speculated that barbless circle hooks were self-shedding
and his theory was confirmed in the summer of 2007. A team of volunteers
were attempting to capture a monk seal that had been accidentally
hooked. Just prior to capture, the seal shook its head and popped
the hook out. That hook turned out to be a barbless circle hook.
Kawamoto realized, though, that anglers interact with fish more
often than protected species. “It was definitely a ‘duuuh’
moment," he noted. "Using a barbless circle hook would
help many, many more fish than seals or turtles. After all, fishermen
target fish and are good at doing that. Helping more fish is just
helping our own goals get realized. Helping the turtles and seals
is also helping our goal of sustainable fishing. Here was a way
to help our kids continue to have what we so easily take for granted.”
What we do as anglers, including using barbless circle hooks, can
have a tremendous and positive affect on fish. Using barbless circle
hooks also has a positive impact on wildlife; it is not only an
act of conservation, it is also an act that helps preserve and steward
our cultural heritage.
There are very few anglers who leave the Islands without one of
Kurt Kawamoto's sample packs of circle hooks. There are few anglers
on the Islands who have not felt the effects of Kawamoto's stewardship
of the fisheries and of Hawaii's rich, fishing heritage.
For more Stewardship Tips visit www.RecycledFish.org