Fish cleaning and fish waste

Ok, so I am putting my self over here for a beating yet thought I would check what other fishers think.

I was cleaning my fish on the end of the week, back at the incline and diverting the fish stays from the back of the boat out into the tide. Had a person in a vessel by me say " I would not do that". Said back, not very impolitely, “That is the place they originated from” and continued doing what I was doing. Chitchat returned and forward and he left muttering something about I am I’m going to call me one.

Two or after three minutes the harbor master descended and instructed me to get the fish frames out of the water. Had somewhat of a discussion with the harbor master about what the best choice was to do with the frames, His suggestion was to clean the fish adrift and toss the casings over yonder, I advised him that, while I concurred that was the best arrangement that sadly it was unlawful under the fisheries demonstration. He at that point recommended I put the casings in the container over the incline.

I’m still not persuaded that setting the frames in the bin to decay until the professional cleaners collect it, is a superior choice than into the tide where fish, feathered creatures and tide will do what they do and all will frame some portion of the regular chain.
Let me know what your thoughts are

I was night paddling Mission Bay when we passed the fish-cleaning station IN the bay NEXT to the marina NEAR the swimming beach.
Seals & gulls were all over the place eating the guts but I wonder how many sharks are attracted to that ‘chum’, sharks that would normally avoid the Bay and the beach.

Perhaps that is what the rules were made to avoid?

I would avoid doing it at a ramp, launch area, near a dock, or any place where the scraps may be visible to people prior to them being eaten/decomposing. Many marinas/bays/rivers may have rules regarding this, so also know what may be required for your local area.

And if you fish the area a lot, I would also spread them out (not drop in the same place every time) to avoid predators/scavengers from congregating waiting for your free meal.


Perhaps also the rule is to prevent fish guts from washing ashore to rot and spread disease and stink.

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It depends a lot on how much fish guts and how many people we are talking about. On a back country river, a few fish guts are not going to hurt a thing. Just don’t leave them near camp.

At boat ramps, fish cleaning stations and parking lots there are a lot of people around and too much guts. Best to put them in a trash container.

Where I live it is now illegal to put fish parts back into the water after cleaning.
They must go into the trash…

Filleted carcasses should always be put in the trash. The sharp bones can cause severe damage to birds that attempt to eat them. Many pelicans and cormorants get in trouble here from trying to eat carcasses. The lucky ones get rescued; the others die

As for guts, there is usually a local ordinance in place as to how they should be disposed of. This will vary with location but the local police or animal control might be able to help

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Cleaning fish on the end of the week,
fish frames,

You’re not from around here are you?

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If you have freezer space…freeze it and use as chum next time you go fishing. Put it in a crab trap or donate it to a crabber/lobster boat.

Put them in your garden and see how they smell. So three, four, or more do the same in succession what’s the place look and smell like?

Local regulations may have the answer, but there’s little less pleasant than getting into a canoe or kayak where someone has dumped a lot of floating, rotting fish parts. I wouldn’t want to be swimming at a beach where these are washing up either.

In a remote area or in deep water far from shore, small amounts might not be a problem, as scavengers will make quick work of it. Around the Chesapeake most fishermen seem to use the dumpsters at the ramps. Not very pleasant in the summer, but they seem to be emptied regularly, placed in a far corner, and the remains are biodegradable. Processing plants send such bio-waste to rendering plants to be made into fertilizer, animal feed, and other products.

Almost all reputable sites dealing with fishing recommend disposing of fish waste in the trash or burying small quantities in a garden if you have one. They do not recommend throwing such waste back in the water. If camping bury it far from the campsite.

My father grew roses for a hobby. He used fish parts for fertilizer , putting them in a hole next to the plants and covering with soil. He won many first places in flower shows. No smell in the garden.
There is a public ramp on the ICW near Charleston. Apparently people cleaned fish there because an 8’ alligator hung around it.

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I’m not familiar with saltwater but here in the southern USA, there are tons of turtles in the freshwater. They are the ultimate scavengers.
I fished with a friend for many years who had a cleaning table in his backyard. We’d fillet fish (crappie, white bass, and striped bass) and he would throw the filleted carcasses in the yard and within an hour or two both black and turkey vultures made short work of them.
I’ve also seen filleted catfish carcasses nailed to a post where smaller birds would pick them clean leaving just a skeleton.
My general feeling is to return the carcass to nature for recycling whenever it’s possible without being a public nuisance.

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