Fishing & Angling – Dangers and Dire Consequences
The catching of fish for food or for sport is controversial. There are ethical and ecological issues.
Fish are sentient creatures. It has been shown that they communicate with each other.
Fishing with hook and line will cause severe trauma and fear to the unfortunate fish. When fish are thrown back, they may be repeatedly hooked, causing dreadful damage to face and jaws.
Fishing with hook and line, whether on rivers or coastline, can also lead to the loss of the line or trace, which can then be a danger to birds and other animals, causing severe injury and possibly a lingering death. It also brings a very real danger of lead poisoning, for birds and other creatures who ingest this material.
Trawling and net fishing will similarly cause serious suffering to the captured fish. It also has a bad record of catching unwanted prey (e.g. dolphins and turtles). A massive amount of unwanted catch is put back dead (this is the so-called ‘bycatch').
Trawling in coastal areas can cause irreparable damage to the sea bed (e.g. coral reefs etc.). This damage has been verified in Lyme Bay (Dorset), where unique seabed life has been damaged beyond repair for the foreseeable future.
In the Southern Seas, the albatross is falling prey, in massive and unsustainable numbers, to the ‘longlining' fishing methods employed there.
Sharks are caught so that their fins can be cut off (the live and mortally injured animals can be thrown back to die or, if killed, the entire remainder of the carcase is thrown back and wasted) in order to fuel the Western World's insatiable appetite for shark cartilage, to remedy its self-inflicted ills (nutraceuticals) and to fuel the world's decadent demand for shark fin soup. Serious welfare and sustainability issues arise.
Apart from these important considerations, there is a question of sustainability. Factory fishing methods are literally vacuuming the oceans for fish stocks and removing unsustainable numbers from populations. One particularly worrying example is bluefin tuna fishing in the Straits of Gibraltar, where mature tuna are herded and removed, en route to spawning in the Mediterranean. Of course, mass ‘harvesting' in this way not only dangerously plunders current stocks but also imperils future generations.
For the help of earnest readers, we append links to just a few websites that document some of the pitfalls:
- http://www.wildaid.org/PDF/reports/Anti Shark Fin Letter.doc (example letter)