This topic should really be titled “over-killing” because that is the real root of the problem. Why do you think that there are still so many bonefish left in the world? Well if people could eat them I can guarantee you that this would not be the case. The bottom line is that saltwater fish are a public resource and people have absolutely no restraint. If a fish is even semi-edible or has a commercial value that fish will be hunted and killed until it’s populations are decimated. This fishing practice was semi-viable years ago when there were a lot less people out fishing and technology was not where it is today but in todays arena the fish don’t stand a chance. We saw this first hand with our inshore Cobia fishery. A fishery that was once one of the best on the East Coast we had 30-70 pound Cobia’s swimming into our inshore waters (some as far as 15+ miles inland) but due to over-harvesting this fishery has completely collapsed. Why? First off these fish came here in large numbers for about 2 months out of the year to spawn…those big 70 pounders were spawning females laden with eggs. Secondly, cobia are considered to be rather good table fare. Third, cobia fever! Just before cobia season thats all anyone talked about; SCDNR publicized the fishery, magazines publicized the fishery, guides (including myself) publicized the fishery, all of the local restaurants publicized the fishery and multiple kill tournaments were organized. Everyone locally and beyond went out and systematically killed off all of the breeding stock only to cut out the meat and throw the unfertilized eggs back into the drink. In my own defense and the defense of a hand full of other captains and anglers we did see the writing on the wall well before the fishery took a nose dive, we changed our ways and tried to get others to do the same but with a freight train like that there was no stopping it! Efforts are currently being made to bring the fishery back but it will likely take a very long time if it is even possible due to the loss of the genetic pool that once swam into our waters. Sadly enough, we are currently experiencing similar trends in many of our other fisheries and people refuse to even recognize that we are having problems. Stay tuned for next month as we will be will be discussing how overall fishing popularity has impacted our fisheries.