When I was growing up in South Florida and my dad would wake me at 5 a.m. to go fishing in the Everglades, I always looked forward to catching catfish, bass and bream. Our nemesis was the alligator gar, the “trash fish” that was too bony to eat, wolfed down our bait and looked like something out of a Godzilla movie taken down to Everglades size.
So I found it difficult to believe Tom Benning’s alligator gar tale out of Texas in today’s Wall Street Journal (http://bit.ly/13HOyq — read it today, lest ye have to pay!), which says the alligator gar in East Texas 1) has become a prized sport fish and 2) has become so prized as a sport fish that state authorities are imposing a one-a-day bag limit as of Sept. 1.
Even more amazing is the fact that these things are now being commercially fished and sold to Mexico, where they are popular in restaurants, Benning reports. Some are large enough that they’re hunted with crossbows!
And as for the new catch restriction:
The limit has infuriated commercial fishermen, who catch gar by the hundreds to export to Mexico, where they are a popular menu item. Some hunting guides worry the limit could ruin their business, too. The mere notion that alligator gar would need protecting strikes even some of the fish’s biggest fans as ridiculous.
Now, this seems to me to qualify for the “fishing-down-the-food-chain” problem that we’ve explored before in our early rendition of Dateline Earth. (http://bit.ly/ZCK50) Your thoughts?