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Fish Out of Water

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Fish Out of Water

From Beauty Without Cruelty-India
February 2013

Fish feel as much pain as humans. Aquatic lives feel stress and pain when injured as they writhe and gasp for air. They all have complex nervous systems and there is scientific evidence that they undergo suffering and distress. Chased, confined, or otherwise threatened, they react as humans do to stress with increased heart and breathing rates, and adrenal hormone release. Bio-chemically and structurally the central nervous systems of fish closely resemble that of humans.

Imagine yourself happily walking down a lane along with family and friends, when you suddenly find a tempting tasty morsel of food you love dangled in front of you. You bite into it only to have a nasty sharp hook imbedded in your cheek or gullet and the next instant you are hauled up to the first floor of a building where you are battered to death. That’s what angling is… shikar in Hindi.

Angling and hunting are cruel “blood sports”.

Many packages for tourists and some holiday resorts are promoting fishing and angling because they consider India to be the “upcoming paradise for anglers”. They lure people with colourful advertisements into believing it is a family activity that bonds children and parents outdoors. They go to the extent of combining its promotion along with bird watching, trekking and mountaineering.

Under political patronage, the Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society (Kerala-HATS) held an angling festival/contest on the Old Mattancherry Bridge at Kochi in July 2012. Prizes were given to the person who caught the first, the biggest and the highest number of fish.

It is said that due to greed of anglers, fish like the famous mahseer are fast depleting in number, nevertheless, trout, goonch (catfish), kalabasu and other fishing in India is being made popular by groups promoting holidays as mentioned.

Anglers hypocritically talk about their support to conservation and artificial propagation of rare fishes and even demand a ban on illegal methods of fishing!

Fish feel as much pain as humans. Aquatic lives feel stress and pain when injured as they writhe and gasp for air. They all have complex nervous systems and there is scientific evidence that they undergo suffering and distress. Chased, confined, or otherwise threatened, they react as humans do to stress with increased heart and breathing rates, and adrenal hormone release. Bio-chemically and structurally the central nervous systems of fish closely resemble that of humans.

Tigers are not the only attraction at Corbett National Park, people are known to step off the tiger trail and go on a quest for the mahseer for which paid fishing licences are issued because this freshwater carp is endangered and can only be found in the Ramganga and Cauvery rivers.

So much for conservation… killing mahseer is not allowed and within a stipulated time the fish hooked on purpose has to be compulsorily put back into the water: the “playing” of fish is barbaric as it puts the fish through a long ordeal of stress, pain, fear, struggle, agony and torture. The average time it takes to land a mahseer is 1:1 ratio weight/minute – its weight is then recorded and photographed with the torturer by which time irreversible damage is done even though the fish gets thrown back into the water. The hook (even if barb-less) injures and traumatises the fish which will probably die of shock, inability to eat, or of microbial or fungal infections. Cutting the line and leaving the hook in the fish is worse.

In August 2011 Beauty Without Cruelty wrote a detailed letter to the Union Minister of Environment & Forests requesting that the intense cruelty involved in angling fish like the endangered mahseer be looked into and to ban the cruel practice of catching and returning/releasing fish back into the water.

Many anglers try to entice their friends to join their tribe. They consider fishing a rewarding “sport” and feel it helps them unwind and relax during the time they patiently wait with their fishing rods in hand.

Those who accompany anglers to rivers and lakes indirectly support fishing. It is akin to giving company to a murderer on his mission.