Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hunting and Fishing for 'Sport' - cruelty by any other name

I was brought up hunting and fishing.
As a kid I loved nothing more than heading off into the bush with my old man and bringing back a goat, or a rabbit or two for the table. We had a well stocked freezer and much of what we ate was what we had shot in the bush.
People may debate the killing of animals for food. My thoughts on this are well known and I am not going to delve into that area in this post.
I was always taught by my Dad to only hunt for the table. If we shot it, we ate it. And once we had enough for the table we called it a day. One deer could feed us for a long time!
We did the same with fishing. We went out, caught fish and ate them. We didn't tag and release, and we didn't keep catching fish once we had enough to feed the family.

We never hunted solely for the 'sport' of it. And never fished for sport either.

Hunting and fishing for sport is cruel and unnecessary. Particularly fishing for sport is to me abhorrent. Ensnaring another living being with a hook through it's lip or jaw (or worse if 'foul-hooked' or deep-hooked) and dragging it, against all it's struggles to the boat or shore, only to release it cannot really be anything other than cruel (to cause pain and suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it according to Oxford dictionary online).
The argument that fish do not feel pain has little merit. Researchers at the University of Guelph, Edinburgh University, Purdue University and others have independently concluded from their respective studies that fish feel and respond to pain in very similar ways to humans.
People will say though that fish are 'dumb', as if intelligence (or lack thereof) were some sort of excuse for cruelty. Maybe I could go fishing from the top floor of the mall for stupid people?

They may say that it is better to fish and release than to kill animals. I would say it's better to just not fish at all if you're not going to take it in and eat it, and to be sensible in that respect too. Once you have a reasonable amount landed then chill out! Have a beer, have a coffee, sit, relax, go home. Why keep fishing?
The mortality rates of released fish vary by species and method. BUT there is always a percentage of fish that will die as a result of sport fishing.

A 2 year study on sport fishing off Baja California showed that nearly 1/4 of the Marlin caught and released died within a short time (about 75% of these with 2 days and 94% within 4 days).

Over fishing is already a huge problem. Sport and recreational fishing is also a huge activity. Even if people continue to fish, the collateral damage of fish mortality over and above what is taken for food must have a detrimental (and unnecessary) affect on fish stocks.

Just this weekend I was talking to a good friend of mine - an archetypal hunting, fishing Kiwi. He was appalled by the recreational fishing quotas that are allowed. In the northern region of New Zealand for example I could take a total of 20 fish per day. That amount is outrageous given that there is compelling evidence that fish stocks are becoming more and more depleted.

Simple things we can do to affect change:
- Stop sport fishing
- Eat meat less
- Eat fish less
[Use vegetarian options more]


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