Ask your average angler whether he’s contributing to the steady decline in fish numbers and you’re liable to get a supersized serving of righteous indignation.
Most fishermen agree that hooking and landing fish generate some mortality, but they’re just as likely to rationalize the money they donate to conservation organizations, licensing, and taxes paid on outrageously expensive terminal tackle, more than make up for it.
Likewise for the angler that eats fish. As fishermen are keenly aware – our sporting fraternity is among the few groups anxious to see fish propagate, and while we admit to our kill (although understandably quiet about what is freezer-burned and tossed), we’re just as apt to quote similar avenues of compensatory dollars that lessen the impact of our hammy feet on the environment.
Unfortunately those dollars are outweighed many times over by the angler’s yearly outlay on Doritos, Ho-Ho’s, double-decker Bic Mac’s (dripping with plasticine GMO Cheddar), greasy Chili Cheese fries, great slabs of charred red meat, and the butter necessary to slide of that mass down his gullet.
While anglers protest with a pathetic bleat, “… at least we get a little exercise,” – the reality is that we’re fat, and growing fatter by the minute.
And as a by-product of all that questionable gastronomy, our collective diabetes medications are accelerating the feminization of male fish downstream of every sewage outflow.
Estrogens from birth control medications in wastewater treatment plant effluent have been cited as the likely cause, but research has shown that endocrine disruption is not solely predictable based on hormone receptor interactions. Many other non-hormone pharmaceuticals are found in effluent at concentrations orders of magnitude higher than estrogens, yet there is little data indicating the impacts of these other medications. The widely prescribed anti-diabetic metformin is among the most abundant of pharmaceuticals found in effluent and is structurally dissimilar from hormones. However, we show here that exposing fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) to a concentration of metformin found in wastewater effluent causes the development of intersex gonads in males, reduced size of treated male fish, and reduction in fecundity for treated pairs.
Given that anglers are never prone to accept blame for more than a few milliseconds, and based on what the medical profession insists we do to correct our behavior, it appears as the act of fishing is now a life saving measure, and should be advertised as such to any spouse insisting on lawns being mown or chores being done …
It’s important we do our part to minimize the effects of our diabetes meds mixing with the existing slurry of birth control and female hormones in wastewater. While we can agree to sacrifice an occasional cheeseburger, we’ll waive any chastisement of female additions to wastewater, as we can all agree if the choice is between fishing and “tail” to save a watershed, the fish will definitely get screwed.