Research has shown that keeping fish in the water as much as possible goes a long way. Removing the fish from the water for a quick selfie photo can decrease the odds of its survival.
This year I'd like to promote a new initiative that I think we can all stand behind. I think the fish will benefit as well!
The objective of Keepemwet® is to the spread the word on the better handling of fish you are going to release. Keepemwet® is NOT in any way opposed to lawful harvest of fish for consumption. This is purely relevant to scenarios when fish are released.
The Goal To Increase The Odds of Survival
Photo by burke_films
The Keepemwet® organization was started by Bryan Huskey, with some basic principles and tips for better handling of fish that you plan to release.
On their website, their mission statement reads that "Keepemwet® is about releasing fish in the best condition possible. It’s a motto for minimizing air exposure, eliminating contact with dry surfaces, and reducing handling.
It’s a movement to empower anglers to take small, simple steps to responsibly enjoy and share fishing experiences. the goal is to minimize the impact of catch & release angling on fisheries by uniting conscientious anglers, organizations and companies to promote science based practices for handling fish that are released."
Their main goals are to get anglers to
3 Keepemwet® Principles
Photo by keeganburke
1. Minimize Air Exposure
After reeling in your catch, chances are the fish has experienced some sort of exercise-induced stress, causing them to tire out and have diminished muscle function. For the fish to be able to recover from being caught, they need to stay in the water so they can breathe and pump oxygen into their system.
Keeping your fish out of the water can prevent recovery and may lead to death if done for too long. Even shorter durations (as little as 10-20 seconds for some species) can have serious effects on short-term and long-term fish health.
You can reduce these health effects by keeping a fish’s mouth and gills fully submerged in the water as much as possible during handling.
Photo by striper_swiper
2. Eliminate Contact with Dry Surfaces
That slime that covers a fish is actually a protective barrier for harmful bacteria and disease. Fish coming in contact with dry surfaces such as docks, boats, hands and grass can lose some of their protective barrier. Keepemwet® suggests the following steps:
3. Reduce Handling
The less time handling the fish, the better. Take some steps to prepare for your release by using barbless hooks. Make sure to have pliers and hook removal tools easily accessible, and if you are hoping for a photo, have someone ready to take the photo immediately.
Why This Should Matter To You
Lee Wulff famously said, "The finest gift you can give to any fisherman, is to put a good fish back." I will take that comment one step further by saying if you are planning to release a good fish, then make sure you release it in the best condition possible.
One thing we all have in common is the love of the catch. We wait all winter long to be a part of the great fish migrations that move through Cape Cod.
In order to keep these schools and migrations of fish healthy for years to come, we need to take care of this year's generation of fish first.
Throughout this season, please do your best to keep your fish wet! Take a selfie, but make it quick, and don't remove the fish from the water.
If we get enough people onboard with this mindset, it will help ensure we have healthy fish to catch in the future.
We can all make a huge difference in the strengthening of our fisheries by simply remember to keep the fish wet at all times.