NOAA 99-23
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas, Bill Price


The federal agency charged with managing the nation's saltwater species has adopted a new code that promotes ethical fishing behavior by anglers, the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service announced today. The code is part of the Fisheries Service's ongoing efforts to implement the public education requirements of President Clinton's 1995 Executive Order regarding the management of recreational fisheries.

Known as the Code of Angling Ethics, it was developed with the help of angling groups, including the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Recreational Fishing Alliance and Trout Unlimited.

"The code gives us an official avenue to foster sound resource management attitudes and actions with our angling constituents," said Rolland Schmitten, the director of the National Marine Fisheries Service. "It is a strong step by the agency to meet its commitment to work with our recreational fisheries constituents as partners in ensuring a healthy marine environment."

"While the code may seem self evident to some, it was developed with a broad base of angler support, and the final result outlines simple actions that, if practiced by all, will benefit the quality of the angling experience today and for future generations," said Dick Schaefer, chief of the intergovernmental and recreational fisheries office for the Fisheries Service.

The Fisheries Service will provide the code to anglers, fishing clubs, bait and tackle shops, and fishing boat operators through a variety of cards, stickers, and posters that promote its use. The code is posted on agency's recreational fisheries Web site at

The Code of Angling Ethics:

  • Promotes, through education and practice, ethical behavior in the use of aquatic resources.
  • Values and respects the aquatic environment and all living things in it.
  • Avoids spilling and never dumps any pollutants, such as gasoline and oil, into the aquatic environment.
  • Disposes of all trash, including worn lines, leaders, and hooks, in appropriate containers, and helps to keep fishing sites litter-free.
  • Takes all precautionary measures necessary to prevent the spread of exotic plants and animals, including live baitfish, into non-native habitats.
  • Learns and obeys angling and boating regulations, and treats other anglers, boaters, and property owners with courtesy and respect.
  • Respects property rights, and never trespasses on private lands or waters.
  • Keeps no more fish than needed for consumption, and never wastefully discards fish that are retained.
  • Practices conservation by carefully handling and releasing alive all fish that are unwanted or prohibited by regulation, as well as other animals that may become hooked or entangled accidentally.
  • Uses tackle and techniques that minimize harm to fish when engaging in "catch and release" angling.

The Fisheries Service is an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency is dedicated to protecting and to preserving the nation's ocean wildlife through scientific research, fisheries management, habitat conservation and enforcement.