I cannot understand the psychology of a person who is thrilled by dragging a wild creature through the water by a barbed hook in its mouth and gets pleasure from making it struggle frantically in a desperate bid to get free. Finding gratification in the suffering of another isn’t sport. It’s sadism…
You reach up to pluck a mango from a tree and find your hand impaled with a sharp and deep barbed hook that you cannot take out. Imagine your terror and pain. Imagine yourself being pulled up through the hook in your hand, the whole weight of your body being pulled by that one hand into a water tank where you cannot breathe at all. The pain, the choking and desperation for oxygen ?This is what happens to fish when you go fishing for ?sport?. Anglers may not like to think about it, but fish suffer when they are impaled in the mouth and pulled into an environment in which they cannot breathe. If anglers treated dogs, cows, or pigs the way they treat fish, they would be thrown into prison on charges of cruelty to animals.
Sport fishing has nothing to do with hunger. It is catch-and-release fishing fishing for fun and adventure. I cannot understand the psychology of a person who is thrilled by dragging a wild creature through the water by a barbed hook in its mouth and gets pleasure from making it struggle frantically in a desperate bid to get free. Finding gratification in the suffering of another isn’t sport. It’s sadism.
Would you do this to your dog or cat? Would you throw a bone to them with a hook hidden inside and then as soon as the hook went through his palate and the blood started pouring out, drag him about the house with a rope while he struggled and screamed? Most of the violent murderers and psychotics in prison are the ones who started their lives of crime doing similar things to animals. They are condemned for their brutality. Is it any less brutal to do it to a fish? Suppose you caught eagles with worms and hooks and hauled them around on 50 feet of line while they tried to get away. Then when they fell to the ground you released them. No one would tolerate that sort of thing with birds. But we do for fish because they’re out of sight.
Neurobiologists have long recognised that fish brains and nervous systems closely resemble our own. Scientists have created a detailed map of pain receptors in fish’s mouths and all over their bodies. Dr. Tom Hopkins, Professor of Marine Science at the University of Alabama, says that the pain a fish feels when she’s hooked is like drilling into the mouth without anesthesia,
A two-year study conducted by scientists at Edinburgh University and the Roslin Institute in the United Kingdom proved scientifically that fish feel pain, just as all animals do. Says Dr Donald Broom, scientist at Cambridge University and animal welfare advisor to the British Government? Anatomically, physiologically and biologically the pain system in fish is the same as in birds and mammals?
The Edinburgh University scientists report that in response to pain, fish also feel emotional stress and engage in a rocking motion strikingly similar to the kind of motion seen in stressed higher vertebrates like mammals. Researcher Rebecca Dunlop, says: ‘Since fish can perceive pain, angling cannot continue to be considered a non-cruel sport’,
Studies have demonstrated the agitated responses of fish to painful conditions, from rapid respiration to colour changes to the secretion of stress hormones. The ordeal of being hooked through the mouth, yanked at the end of a fishing line, and prevented from breathing each time its body leaves the water is intensely unpleasant and distressing. Recreational anglers should stop to contemplate that fish are complex individuals, each with their own unique personality, just like the dogs and cats we share our homes with.
Did you know that fish can learn to avoid nets by watching other fish in their group and that they can recognise individual “shoal mates”? Some fish gather information by eavesdropping on others, and others lay eggs on leaves so that they can be carried to a safe place. A recent issue of Fish and Fisheries cited more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence, proving that fish are smart, that they can use tools, and that they are “steeped in social intelligence, pursuing Machiavellian strategies of manipulation, punishment and reconciliation, exhibiting stable cultural traditions and cooperating to inspect predators and catch food.
Biologist Culum Brown of the University of Edinburgh who studies cognition in fish, says, “Fish are more intelligent than they appear. In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including primates.” Their memory, equal in all respects to any other vertebrate, allows them to create mental maps that guide them using cues such as light, sounds, smells, and visual landmarks. Dr. Phil Gee of the University of Plymouth, says that fish can tell what time of day it is. He says “fish are able to adapt to changes in their circumstances, like any other animals and birds.” “Australian crimson spotted rainbowfish, which learnt to escape from a net in their tank, remembered how they did it 11 months later. This is equivalent to a human recalling a lesson learnt 40 years ago.”
Fish talk to each other with squeaks, squeals, and low-frequency sounds. They like to be touched and often gently rub against one another. Some fish tend well-kept gardens, encouraging the growth of tasty algae and weeding out those they don’t like. Like birds, many fish build nests where they raise their babies; others collect stones to make hiding places where they can rest.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, one of the world’s leading marine biologists, said, “I wouldn’t eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel. They’re so good-natured, so curious. Fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they’re wounded.”
Fish also suffer from fear and anticipation of physical pain. Published research shows that fish use sound to communicate distress when nets are dipped into their tanks or they are otherwise threatened. Researcher William Tavolga found that fish grunted when they received an electric shock. The fish began to grunt as soon as they saw the electrode, clearly in anticipation of the torment that Tavolga was inflicting on them.
According to Dr. Michael Fox, D.V.M, Ph.D., “Even though fish don’t scream audibly to humans when they are in pain and anguish, their behaviour should be evidence enough of their suffering when they are hooked or netted. They struggle, endeavouring to escape and, by so doing, demonstrate they have a will to survive.”
Anglers tell themselves that catch-and-release fishing is more humane and nature-friendly than catching fish and killing them. But sport fishing is probably the most unethical and immoral, even more cruel than hunting. Hurting an animal for enjoyment, forcing it to engage in frenzied struggle, is never nature-friendly, even if the animal doesn’t die. Sport fisherman only do it because they like the fight the fish put up. The hook allows them to control and exert power over fish, one of the most beautiful forms of nature. Then they can salve their conscience by being nice to the fish, releasing them back, albeit with blood pouring out of its mouth, its body scraped raw from dashing against rocks and debris, probably dying in a few hours. It’s not just the fish that get hurt. Ducks are often injured by wires that have been left behind.
Enjoy the water, the peace, the picnic, the landscape. Leave your cruelty and viciousness and the urge to dominate behind. Any sport that depends on its fun on forcing an animal to fight for its life is wrong.