Cruel, Cold, Stupid ... and Hardly Sporting

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Cruel, Cold, Stupid ... and Hardly Sporting

By Jenny Moxham
Published in Geelong Advertiser
February 2011

WHAT exactly does fishing consist of? In a nutshell, it involves cunningly tricking a sensitive, inoffensive creature into swallowing a sharp, barbed, metal hook disguised as food.

It involves dragging the terrified animal from his watery home by means of the hook which subsequently cuts deeper into his throat.

It involves pulling him into a foreign environment in which he cannot breathe. Anyone who has ever experienced breathing difficulties will know how terrifying this alone can be.

Is subjecting animals to this kind of torture really something that should be regarded as fun? And is it really desirable to teach children to be cruel to animals then ignore their suffering?

Now fisher-folk are likely to defend their actions saying they catch the fish to eat — but does eating an animal justify torturing it?

If we tortured a dog in a similar manner, would the torture be justified if we ate the dog?

The reality is that we don’t need to eat fish any more than we need to eat dogs, cats or any other animal.

Apart from the cruelty aspect, angling is also a low and underhanded activity.

What do we think of predators who cunningly lure children into their cars by offering them lollies or chocolate?

What do we think of people who cunningly trick the elderly into handing over their life savings?

Is cunning, trickery and deceit a trait that we admire?

Of course not. Tricking the vulnerable is something that we, as a society, despise so why should it be viewed as acceptable to cunningly trick and deceive vulnerable members of other species?

But fishing is even more heartless than this, as I discovered when I came across an Australian fishing website this week promoting the use of live fish as bait.

‘‘Live baits are the ultimate in fishing baits,’’ I read. Then followed instructions for making the ‘‘bridle’’, described as a simple but extremely effective method of rigging a live fish.

‘‘Cut a length of cable-tie at an angle to create a point. Pass the cable through the fish’s upper and forward eye socket. Close off the cable firmly over and above the eyes and trim short.’’ What? Was I reading correctly? Would people actually encourage others to force cable-tie through the eye sockets of a living, sensitive creature?

Obviously, they would because there were clear diagrams accompanying the instructions.

There was also a variation of this technique which entailed pushing a needle threaded with fishing line through the fish’s eye sockets.

Can you even begin to imagine how you would feel having cable tie shoved through your eye sockets - and then being left that way?

Researchers have proved that fish feel pain in much the same way as birds and mammals so there is no reason to assume that it would be any less painful and terrifying for the fish.

The poet Byron famously described angling as ‘‘the cruellest, the coldest and the stupidest of pretended sports’’.

Can any thinking person honestly disagree with him?