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Thread: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

  1. #1

    Default Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    Hey everyone,
    This is a question I have been struggling with every since I started fishing.

    I love to fly fish, to reconnect with nature, and to spend time in the outdoors.
    For me, fly fishing is truly a transcendental experience, and in that sense it is unique for me.

    I believe that catching a fish to eat (as long as the fishery is healthy) is ethical, at least more ethical than buying that same fish from the supermarket. We should all learn where our food comes from, and the level of detachment that many people have is worrisome.

    However, what about catch and release? Essentially, we are piercing a fish's mouth, dragging it through the water, tiring it out (sometimes to the point of death) for what? The answer is simply for our own enjoyment. As I fish, I often think that I am torturing a fish for purely selfish reasons, and that worries me. Even if we take small steps to ease the fish's suffering (using barbless hooks and playing fish quickly, for example) catch and release fishing still seems cruel to me.

    What do you guys think? Is fishing ethical? Is fishing purely for sport (catch and release) ethical?Does having that special connection with nature trump the pain we inflict on the fish?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    This is a great question..
    Even though my post count is less than (on this forum)
    This topic is near and dear to my heart..
    Pinch your elbow as hard as you can..
    Can you feel any pain?
    Nope,, that's about what a trout feels..some studies have indicated by pupal reaction that fish feel pain when there lip is pierced..but there is a study that conflicts the pupal reaction.. due to the flash of the camera..
    So with that being said...
    It's a fish..who cares..If you harvest for consumption do so.. Eat what you catch and live within the guidelines of your Local DOW.
    In other words don't fill your freezer and toss last years catch...
    Fish can be smoked even if freezer burned ,makes a great gift to your friends and served as an appetizer paired with a White Zin..mmm tasty
    The atrocity here is to misstreat a fish to be released..The use of WOOL Cloth OR absorbent material Gloves..
    Bad Move Ninjas.. The Fish have one slime layer ..if you use a cloth or any glove or cloth to control your catch including your net bag..You might as well throw it in the freezer /cooler and eat it.. the damage done by the use of such material is detrimental to the life of any fish
    I use gloves to keep warm..after I control my fish/catch I remove my gloves for photo and release..Please do the same..

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    I learned long ago that many of the things I do when taken into account in the larger picture are not ethical as per a natural relationship with the environment.

    1. For instance, I drive a car and a pickup truck = Co2 and C monoxide emissions plus trace So4 & Nitrogen Oxide emissions.
    2. I live in a house built of wood that was resultant of the deforestation of some area.
    3. I heat the house with a combination of wood & natural gas.
    4. I am using a computer to write this that is powered by electricity from a coal fired power plant = So4 = acid rain.

    In the big picture C&R fishing is probably among the least damaging things I do on a regular basis. Do yourself a favor and don't think too hard about what is really going on on this planet or you will feel guilty for being alive.

    Ard

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    As long as you treat the animal with the respect it deserves, then you are being mostly ethical.

    (Does the fish "deserve" a pierced lip? Probably not. But if we treat him with care he might forgive us. If we gill grab him, yank out the hook and then just flop him back in the water, he might not be so forgiving. So we're being mostly ethical.)
    Anthony Laurence
    www.anthonylaurence.net
    Web Developement and Design
    FlyFishinado - My Fly Fishing Blog

  5. Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    I believe preserving habitat and water quality are key issues to the health and reproduction of our finned friends.
    As far as ethics and fishing C&R...it's just a fish.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardyreels View Post
    I learned long ago that many of the things I do when taken into account in the larger picture are not ethical as per a natural relationship with the environment.

    1. For instance, I drive a car and a pickup truck = Co2 and C monoxide emissions plus trace So4 & Nitrogen Oxide emissions.
    2. I live in a house built of wood that was resultant of the deforestation of some area.
    3. I heat the house with a combination of wood & natural gas.
    4. I am using a computer to write this that is powered by electricity from a coal fired power plant = So4 = acid rain.

    In the big picture C&R fishing is probably among the least damaging things I do on a regular basis. Do yourself a favor and don't think too hard about what is really going on on this planet or you will feel guilty for being alive.

    Ard
    I agree with Ard.

    Don't think about it too much or you'll find your self naked in a forest holding your breath.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    OK here's my excuse/rationalization ....

    It's a great question-- but in some ways i think the same things that may be a bit troubling and seem hard to justify given the respect for nature that you have, also helps you and most of the other folks that fish and hunt to be advocates for the things-- and creatures that get caught and released or kept for the table.

    For the most part I think most folks that fish-- or hunt for that matter- do so for the opportunity to get outside and for "restorative" (if that's a word) properties of sun, wind, and water. And helping kids and others get introduced to the outdoors is a great way to encourage a profound respect for nature.

    And that in turn hopefully leads to a desire to conserve and protect the environment, fight to protect wild places, restore populations etc etc-- so i guess one could argue there's a greater good beyond the discomfort and occasional inadvertent fatalities from catch and release and even the "harvests" from hunting and fishing- after all folks like John Audubon and Teddy Roosevelt were hunters.

    So, take advantage of opportunities to get involved and/or support conservation organizations, efforts to restore watersheds, or protect habitat and wild self sustaining populations or whatever --- for every whacko group out there, there are a dozen more doing good work.


    ... at least that's my excuse/rationalization ....
    Mark

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    Interesting that this thread is going on; some sort of the same conversation is going on in the "barbless or barbed" thread poll question.

    It is hard to justify, but it is fairly easy to ignore. As I mentioned in the thread concerning barbed or barbless hooks, there are convincing arguments in favor of not fishing at all; or fishing with "hookless flies". The fact that you gain a respect for nature by fly fishing is irrelevant to the question at hand. To stay on topic, the question that needs answered directly is this:

    "Is it morally acceptable to cause discomfort to a fish for your own pleasure"?

    If you say that animals "have rights" (which is the argument in progressive philosophical university circles these days), then it follows that we all be vegans by moral obligation. They call us "speciesists" if we believe that we have some sort of dominion over the animal species.

    This is why many philosophers are depressed or insane; they cannot shelve these questions but they feel obligation to dwell on them. You can only really figure out so many things with certainty.

    It is hard to draw a line between living circumspectly, and living free of the mental anguish that comes from scrutinizing your every action.

    Anyone want to jump on the "HOOKLESS FLIES" idea and make some money off of the progressive liberal tree-huggers? We could convince them pretty easily that if they really loved trout, then they would never hurt one.

  9. Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    Quote Originally Posted by utc2011 View Post

    However, what about catch and release? Essentially, we are piercing a fish's mouth, dragging it through the water, tiring it out (sometimes to the point of death) for what? The answer is simply for our own enjoyment. As I fish, I often think that I am torturing a fish for purely selfish reasons, and that worries me. Even if we take small steps to ease the fish's suffering (using barbless hooks and playing fish quickly, for example) catch and release fishing still seems cruel to me.

    What do you guys think? Is fishing ethical? Is fishing purely for sport (catch and release) ethical?Does having that special connection with nature trump the pain we inflict on the fish?
    Depends. What is the status of a fish? Does it have the same self awareness of say, a dog? If it did, I would say it is definitely unethical. Hooking a puppy on a fly rod would be unethical.

    The same awareness of say a worm? A tree?

    ---------- Post added at 09:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:54 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardyreels View Post
    I learned long ago that many of the things I do when taken into account in the larger picture are not ethical as per a natural relationship with the environment.

    1. For instance, I drive a car and a pickup truck = Co2 and C monoxide emissions plus trace So4 & Nitrogen Oxide emissions.
    2. I live in a house built of wood that was resultant of the deforestation of some area.
    3. I heat the house with a combination of wood & natural gas.
    4. I am using a computer to write this that is powered by electricity from a coal fired power plant = So4 = acid rain.
    Ard
    DANG!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You are durg arned smart for a resident of Wasilla!! The smartest of a Wasilla resident thinks "I can see Russia from here so I am one smarty on World events!!"

    Ard for President in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

    I would look very forward to the debates. Believe me, that would be fun!

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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