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9 May 1999 Issue

Fishing Excuses

Fish Don't Feel Pain
Fish have a complex nervous system and all the sensory organs necessary
for the sensation of pain. It is therefore logical to assume that they do feel
pain.

A three-year investigation by a panel of scientists and representatives from
angling and shooting organizations (the Medway Report) concluded that fish,
like other vertebrates are capable of suffering.

Some points concerning fishing
If a fish is not landed quickly it can become exhausted, fish muscle takes a
long time to recover and an exhausted fish may be virtually unable to move
for several hours.

Once out of the water, the change in air pressure can lead to bleeding from
the gills. Handling the fish can damage its delicate outer skin of mucus
making it vulnerable to disease causing micro-organisms.

Fish kept in crowded keep nets are susceptible to the spread of disease,
aggression from other fish and suffocation caused by the slow diffusion of
gasses in the water.

All this is in addition to the suffering caused by being dragged out of the
water in the first place by a (usually) barbed hook which is sometimes (fatally)
swallowed.

Most of the fish get put back
But it is catching them in the first place that causes them suffering

Most anglers only do it for relaxation
Surely people can find a way to relax without causing the suffering and death
of others?

Fish are free-range
Why should a free-range animal be any more deserving of an unnecessary
death than any other animal? The suggestion that individuals should pay for
their freedom with their lives is moral nonsense. All animals should be free
and we have no right to deprive them of that freedom or their lives for such
trivial reasons as money, the taste of their flesh or the pursuit of 'sport'.

Fish is good for you
The North Sea. where 40% of our fish is caught, has become so polluted
that some fishermen now wear protective face masks to prevent the rashes
and other skin disorders that contact with the water can cause.

Moderate amounts of fish from unpolluted waters (if there are any) are un-
doubtedly good for you. But there are three things to remember here:
firstly, it has been clearly established that fish can and do suffer when they
are caught, secondly, fishing has already had a disastrous effect on the
environment (fish stocks are now at their lowest level ever); and thirdly, all
benefits of eating fish can be easily obtained from a vegan diet. The ethical
choice is clear.

Some points concerning fish slaughter
UK fishing vessels catch 500,000 tons of fish every year and there are no
specific regulations governing their slaughter.

They die of shock, asphyxiation, crushing by the weight of the catch and
freezing on ice bedding. Many, like cod, haddock, plaice, skate and sole
can still be alive when landed and gutted. Eels are killed by burying in
salt (it takes 2 hours) or are chopped into pieces and boiled.

Farmed fish such as salmon and trout are bled to death with or without
stunning. Trout are starved for 3-6 days beforehand and may simply be
taken from the water and packed in ice for transport to the market, taking
up to 14 minutes to die.

 

Go on to Strict Unbending Rules for Stray Cats
Return to 9 May 1999 Issue
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