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Old 04-15-2009, 12:46 AM   #1
swoop
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dispose of fish entrails

i was wondering if you were camping and caught a few fish for dinner, what do you do with the entrails/bones/heads of the fish? do you pack them out? throw them in the woods away from your site? in the water? burn them?
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Old 04-15-2009, 08:47 AM   #2
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I may be wrong but I think you cannot dispose of them within a certain amount of feet of the shoreline.

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Old 04-15-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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From what I have read, the best option is to go as far away from your campsite and water as possible and bury all the entrails at least 12" deep in order to minimize the chance of it being dug up. I've also read that if there are seagulls present in close vicinity, then simply leaving the entrails on a large boulder by the water will do and the seagulls will devour everything within a short amount of time.

I've thought about this too as I would love to catch my own dinner but know that the smell of fish is very strong, persistent and must attract wildlife. The seagulls eating the entrails would be preferred but I would definitely bury the waste a good distance away from my campsite and as deep as I could if no seagulls were to be found.
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:37 AM   #4
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Fish entrails in waterbodies

Fish entrails should not be thrown back into, or near any waterbody. The reason is twofold; both for water quality reasons and for asthetic content. When highly rich organic matter like fish guts goes into water, microrganisms have a tasty meal. This rise in biologic activity consumes oxygen in the water, they call is biologic oxygen demand (BOD). In pollution control (I work for NYSDEC), BOD is always monitored and is used as a surrogate measure of how much organic matter is "rotting away". If a farm manure pond leaks or a residential spectic system outfalls inproperly or a food processing facility dumps milk wastes into a waterbody, the BOD spikes like crazy. BOD also means a loss of oxygen for fish (some species, like trout, are very dependant on a high oxygen level); when BOD is high, mass fish kills can result. Incidentally, cold water can hold far more oxygen than warm water, so if the guts went into the water during the summer, the impact would be worse. Of course, the guts of a few fish is not going to have much of a impact of a remote ADK stream, but the premise is very wrong. The cumulative effect of humanity thinking "hmmm, it is only a few guts" actually has a horrifying effect various pollution issues. No fish guts should go into waterbodies! With respect to the asthetic issue; other hikers, etc will get to see this funky debris and it looks lousy and suggests to the viewer that someone else has been there and made a mess, the outdoor experience is degraded. It would be better to deposit fish guts well away from waterbodies/wetlands and kick some dirt, leaves, etc over it so others don't get to view it there. The miscoorganisms (maybe a bear, etc) in the soil/air will still have a field day consuming it and it will actually be a soil amendment when the process is complete. It will decompose fast. I'd try to perform this disposal away from campsites too (attracts bears).
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Last edited by hdscooterfool; 04-15-2009 at 09:44 AM.. Reason: spelling errors
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Old 04-15-2009, 10:15 AM   #5
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Well put, HD. I didn't know the science behind it; thank you. I saw a violation of this the other day, and even worse, a redneck laughing about tossing the entrails into the water. Pretty discouraging.
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:00 PM   #6
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One would think that the entrails wouldn't last long after being placed in the water. You would think they would be consumed fairly quickly by other animals in the ecosystem (crayfish, birds, 'coons, bears, other fish... etc) - quick and easy meal.

hdscooterfool - how much does something like rotting leaves or trees in the water affect the BOD?
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:59 PM   #7
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sp nyp: That question is testing the limits of my grasp of this topic. The nutritional content of the deposited organic matter is at the heart of this. Meat is generally a more concentrated food source that vegetation. Tree branches and leaves certainly contibute to BOD but at a lower rate.

Organic matter that weighs in heavily is sewage, waste water effluent of any kind, milk by-products, slurried waste from vegetable processing, etc. This stuff is supposed to be processed in a wastewater treatment plant. There, they settle out solids (then gone from the water), they have holding tanks where microorganisms go wild (you can actually see the BOD rise, as the "bugs" proliferate, and then decline as the food source deminishes, when BOD get low enough, the food is mostly gone ("bugs" die off too) and that is a sign that the waste water is closer to disposal standards. To make this go really fast (and far), they spray some of the water into the air to supercharge it with oxygen. The oxygen ramps up the whole game.

This is actually a small issue with fish guts in a small stream, its a principle though. When I'm hiking or camping, I keep my food waste (even soap), urine, feces, the works ...well away from water, even a swampy area. The soil is better at dealing with such decomposition. Water is much more critical to life than most people would think. Water is right at the epicenter of almost all chemistry of the earth and the chemistry of life.

So the fish guts are not toxic. Burning fish guts, etc is also not optimal. Particulates don't help air quality at all.
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Old 04-15-2009, 02:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by swoop View Post
i was wondering if you were camping and caught a few fish for dinner, what do you do with the entrails/bones/heads of the fish? do you pack them out? throw them in the woods away from your site? in the water? burn them?
I usually dry them out and make necklaces from them and the little skulls. Run the entrails through the eye sockets. The tourists just love 'em.
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Old 04-15-2009, 04:19 PM   #9
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When a fish dies naturally it either sinks to the bottom and is consumed, or it floats around until it's consumed. The fish is either 1. going to live out it's life, then die (and be processed in or very close to the water) or 2. get caught then taken away from the area. What has a higher BOD - the whole dead fish decomposing on the bottom or just the guts? I say the whole dead fish.

But, isn't taking the whole fish away from the system removing material that has taken a considerable amount of energy to produce? Wouldn't it be better to leave at least some of it (i.e. the guts) there for the system?

I believe this rule is mainly about aesthetics, and has very little to do with water quality. Guts thrown out in deep water or in a flowing stream won't hurt a thing. Leaving a bunch of heads and guts in the shallows of the launch is unattractive, no matter how much the mink and crayfish appreciate it.
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Old 04-15-2009, 05:50 PM   #10
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If I recall correctly...some native Indian rituals believe that returning something back to the environment(like the entrails,etc) is like thanking the gods for their chance at success and sustenance and also so that future kills will occur to keep them fed.

But, I also think that just leaving guts or entrails of any kind out in the open for others to stumble upon that are trying to enjoy the outdoors isn`t very considerate. It can ruin a families day to arrive on or near a beautiful body of water after a nice hike to eat lunch only to find a bunch of intestines ,etc lying there ...can upset the hikers appetite I`m sure,especially if there are women and young ones trying to share the same area...but,I think,if they are taken away from easy viewing area and either buried or at least covered up by detritus or disposed of overboard out in a deep section of the pond or lake...it can be beneficial to the environment...and,I think there is a law in the N.Y.S.fishing syllabus on how far away entails must be removed to..I`ll look into this law and report back.
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Old 04-15-2009, 06:19 PM   #11
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I just found this in the 2009 Fishing regulations syllabus...

It is illegal to discard any fish carcass,or parts thereof,into the freshwaters of the state,within 100 ft. of shore or upon any public or private lands contiguous to and within 100 ft. of such water,except:

-on private lands by owners of such lands.

-if properly disposing into suitable garbage or refuse collection systems or by burial.

-where incidental cleaning of fish for consuming is permitted.

However,resulting waste ,may not be disposed of within 100 ft. of any public launching or docking sites unless into a suitable refuse collection system.

WB
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Old 04-15-2009, 07:42 PM   #12
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Wow. You guys must gut alot of fish.
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Old 04-15-2009, 08:00 PM   #13
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I eat my fish whole.... and raw.... I'm into that new "raw foods" thing.

NOT

I bury the guts as far away as possible from sites and water. Unless of course I'm being a car camping nut for a while, then they go into my minnow trap.
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Old 04-15-2009, 08:50 PM   #14
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burial

i guess the answer is burial. thanks for finding the answer in the fishing regs.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:32 PM   #15
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Practice EIDLI - "Eat it, don't leave it."

No guts, no problem. Applies equally to fishing and hunting.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:55 PM   #16
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Could anything ever be more biodegradable than fish gook? Is that even possible? Me thinks not.

Toss it back in the pond for the bullhead patrol. Bury it for the bacteria brigade. Leave it for the raven squadrons. For Heaven's sake, just don't sweat it. In very short order it'll be making something else bigger, fatter and stronger.


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Old 11-14-2009, 02:57 AM   #17
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If I recall correctly...some native Indian rituals believe that returning something back to the environment(like the entrails,etc) is like thanking the gods for their chance at success and sustenance and also so that future kills will occur to keep them fed.

But, I also think that just leaving guts or entrails of any kind out in the open for others to stumble upon that are trying to enjoy the outdoors isn`t very considerate. It can ruin a families day to arrive on or near a beautiful body of water after a nice hike to eat lunch only to find a bunch of intestines ,etc lying there ...can upset the hikers appetite I`m sure,especially if there are women and young ones trying to share the same area...but,I think,if they are taken away from easy viewing area and either buried or at least covered up by detritus or disposed of overboard out in a deep section of the pond or lake...it can be beneficial to the environment...and,I think there is a law in the N.Y.S.fishing syllabus on how far away entails must be removed to..I`ll look into this law and report back.
I found this infor. helpful and didn't realize entails could be a concern.It sure is when I would step on a fishbone walking down Southwick Beach when I was younger. Respect for the environment and beliefs need to also be considered. tx for posts[oldie but goodie] Looncry
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Old 11-14-2009, 07:56 PM   #18
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I usually dry them out and make necklaces from them and the little skulls. Run the entrails through the eye sockets. The tourists just love 'em.

Dude,

All I can say is: You are awesome!

PS I don't keep very many of my fish, but how much "pollution" would it be to put the entrails back in the stream, lake.

Wb gave me some books to read once. They were by a local Native American Joseph Bruchac. Anyone correct me if I am wrong, but part of the ritual of taking an animal (fish) for sustenance was to respect it also after you took it, by placing the unwanted parts in the river as a gift back to the gods for allowing us this noble experience..

Maybe Wb can weigh in on this.

To me, unless a thousand people are doing this at a constant rate over time, how harmful could this be to the river ecosystem?

If it is harmful, let me know.
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Old 11-14-2009, 11:00 PM   #19
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I just found this in the 2009 Fishing regulations syllabus...

It is illegal to discard any fish carcass,or parts thereof,into the freshwaters of the state,within 100 ft. of shore or upon any public or private lands contiguous to and within 100 ft. of such water,except:

-on private lands by owners of such lands.

-if properly disposing into suitable garbage or refuse collection systems or by burial.

-where incidental cleaning of fish for consuming is permitted.

However,resulting waste ,may not be disposed of within 100 ft. of any public launching or docking sites unless into a suitable refuse collection system.

WB

I would have thought that this post would have ended the discussion. How freaking hard is it to walk 100 feet from a stream or lake to dipose of your fish waste. Go another 50 feet and you can relieve yourself at the same time. gezzz.
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Old 11-15-2009, 09:31 AM   #20
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I am one who also believe that returning the fish guts back to the stream was a good thing. I am opened to being swayed to changing my beliefs but calling me lazy isn't going to do it. Hdscooterfool brings up some interesting facts but it is hard for me to believe the amount of offal we are talking about is going to matter in any sizable water. It seems to me that being one with nature includes complimenting and continuing the circle of life. Of course one must be discreet not to offend others sensibilities no matter if we believe them to be misguided or not. Mewonders why the Brown bear finds it too freaking hard to walk 100 ft. from the stream to dispose of it's offal and why he is at it take all the dying salmon from polluting our streams.
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