Anyone claiming that catch-and-release is a conservation tool is greatly mistaken. Catch-and-release is not a conservation tool — catch-and-release kills fish.
What catch and release really is has been honestly and candidly described by ADF&G’s Doug Vincent-Lang:
“(Catch-and-release) is a tool which enables managers to continue maximizing the opportunity to participate in recreational fisheries while reducing mortality to what can be termed ‘catch-and-release mortality.’ In this way, the economic value of recreational sportfishing is not jeopardized as the opportunity to participate is not reduced” (emphasis added).
— Doug Vincent-Lang, et al,
“Mortality of coho salmon caught and released using sport tackle in the Little Susitna River, Alaska, 1992”
Advocates of catch-and-release should be broad-shouldered enough and honest enough to admit the same — is not about conserving fish, catch-and-release is about conserving money, and for commercial sportfishing interests like guides, catch-and-release is about conserving the ability to make money.