Why sport fishing is unethical

Some time ago I already wrote more about the ethical reasons against fish consumption. That’s all about eating fish or fish products. Today I want to talk about another way in which people abuse fish for no good reason: sport fishing. Maybe it’s a bit obvious that I am against it, as I am vegan and don’t approve eating fish. However, I think it’s always good to explain more about veganism. So, today I’ll tell you why sport fishing is unethical.

Accounts for All people

In a way, eating fish and killing/harming fish for pleasure (sport fishing) are actually two different things. The difference is that in some cases I can actually understand that someone would eat fish. Some communities on this planet, like some Inuit groups, have no other choice than to eat fish (yet). They are totally cut off from the rest of the world and if they did not eat fish, they would starve. So yes, for people like them, people who would starve without eating fish, I understand that they need fish.

For sports fishing this will never be true. I cannot think of a single human being, in whatever situation, for whom it is okay to catch and kill fish just for pleasure. That is never okay. When it comes to eating fish, this is justifiable for a small group of people on this plane. But sport fishing is never justifiable, in whatever situation. Sport fishing is always unethical, here’s why:

1 no need

Once again: when you fish for fun, you cause needless suffering and death. I cannot wrap my head around this. Why the heck would anyone want this? It’s needless suffering. Killing an animals can almost never be justified, only when it’s a life or death situation between you and the animal. Sport fishing is not a life or death situation. Sport fishing is a hobby.

2 other hobbies

Yes, sport fishing is hobby. And there are so many different hobbies out there which do not cause any suffering at all. I don’t understand why people would choose to kill, when there are a million other things to do. If you like nature so much, go camping, hiking, swimming, whatever. In my opinion it’s never justifiable to have a hobby that causes anybody else any harm. Whether that’s humans or animals.

It would be absurd to throw hooks on the streets, so that people walk into them and we can then trap these people and look at them. But in a way that’s exactly what we’re doing to fish. And if it’s not okay to do something to a human, it’s not okay to do it to an animal either.

3 death

When people think of sports fishing, they think it’s harmless because the fish do not die. The fish are caught, looked at, pictures are shot and then the fish goes back into the water and it lives happily ever after. Well, no. A lot of fish die due to sports fishing. They choke in the time they’re not under water. Not all fish die from the choking, but some also die of exhaustion. And some fish die from the damage they have suffered, due to the hook that has perforated them.

Meta-analysis have shown that most fish caught in sport fishing die in 24 hours afterwards.

The numbers differ per species, for some species these numbers are 100%. Along with this individual harming, there’s also the risk of extinction. Most fish in 2022 are already overfished because of commercial fishing. Let’s not make matters worse for fun.

5 suffering

So yes, a lot of fish die from sport fishing. However, when they do not die, the fish do suffer. I don’t know, but I can imagine that choking is not very nice. Even if you bring a fish above the surface for 10 seconds, the fish is still needlessly choking for 10 seconds. That’s horrible. And as you know, these fish are caught because they are perforated with a hook into their mouth. I don’t know about you, but I personally would not like that. Research has long shown that fish are sentient beings. They have a nervous system and it has been proven that they can feel pain. Just like you and me, fish do not want to be in pain. When you practice sport fishing, you cause them suffering for no good reason.

6 looking for quiet

I personally don’t believe the fishing is so much about the fish. I think people who practice sports fishing enjoy the other things that come with fishing. The quiet time, being alone or with a close friend, being in nature, having a distraction from everything else, camping, etc. etc. I can understand that. But the thing is: you don’t need to go fishing to enjoy all of these things. Go camping. Or just sit quietly in nature. Go foraging. Or meet up with a friend for a walk.

The list of alternative are endless. So keep in mind. We do not need to harm these fish. We have a choice. It’s time to recognize that sport fishing is unethical. And so, it’s time to quit it all together. Please, make the suffering stop.

bare minimum

Not fishing and eating fish is the bare minimum you can do to stop the suffering. If you want to do more, you can do so by becoming an activist. Online activism is a great first step. Sharing information about this issue on social media for example. I personally volunteer online too, in the legal team from BiteBack. There we make legal obligations against fishing events and alike. You can always join the team! But physical activism is also possible. By wearing vegan clothing with vegan phrases on them. Or doing vegan outreach. There are organizations who do vegan outreach. BiteBack and Animal Rights are great examples.

And then there’s always the secone option: donating money. You can donate to individual activists who do great work, like Ed Winters. Or vegan organizations like Animal Rights, Biteback or ProVeg in the Netherlands. I believe that if we spread the vegan message, sport fishing will slowly die off, because people realize that the suffering of animals is unethical.

What about you? Do you agree with me that sports fishing is unethical?

Yours sincerely,

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