Scales of Injustice: Fish Feel Pain, Too
An Animal Rights Article from


Jenny Moxham As published in Sidney Morning Herold
August 18, 2009

WHAT bugs me is fishermen who claim they fish because it's a ''relaxing'' pastime.

One fisherman I know says angling allows him the time to ''reflect on the hustle and bustle of life''. What? Torturing defenceless animals does that?

How fishermen can have such weird ideas is mind-boggling. If we saw someone shoving a hook into a puppy's mouth and yanking him aloft we'd be livid. We'd call the police or the RSPCA. Yet we have fisherfolk sticking hooks into the throats of other equally sensitive creatures and dangling them in the air and somehow it's viewed as fun. Not only that, it's supposedly ''relaxing''. Come on.

Research has shown that, anatomically and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals. Being hooked hurts fish as much as it would hurt us.

You'd think this knowledge would make any sensible person realise fishing is unacceptably cruel. Well, the Victorian Government didn't see it that way. It decided to spend $3.2 million dollars of taxpayers' money on promoting angling as a ''fun and healthy outdoor activity for the entire family''.

So now they stage regular free family fishing events where children as young as four attend workshops that teach them how to hook and asphyxiate fish.

To make sure many children experience the fun of impaling and suffocating a fish, hundreds of large, farm-raised fish are deposited at the venue.

These fish farms are much like the factory farms in which broiler chickens, battery hens and pigs are kept. Fish are tightly confined in filthy enclosures, and many suffer from diseases and debilitating injuries. When they are finally released into a lake it must feel like heaven. (Much the same as when a battery hen is rescued and allowed to walk around for the first time in her life.)

How heartless then to deposit these fish at venues where they will be tricked into swallowing barbed hooks and suffocated.

Professor Bill Runciman, of Adelaide University, says fishing constitutes the greatest source of confused thinking and inconsistency on earth with respect to pain.

He points out people get very excited about dolphins, but have no qualms about fishing competitions at which thousands of people snare fish with hooks and allow them to asphyxiate. Come on, fisherfolk - it's time to acknowledge the truth. Fishing hurts!

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