Animal Rights Uncompromised: Catch-and-Release Fishing

A lot of misconceptions about catch-and-release fishing are floating around, leaving many folks wondering whether the pastime is bad for fish or not. Keep reading to learn more about it and how you can help fish.

Why Catch-and-Release Fishing Is Bad

Catch-and-release fishing is cruelty disguised as “sport.” Studies show that fish who are caught and then returned to the water suffer such severe physiological stress that they often die of shock.

Catch and release fishing©iStock.com/AscentXmedia

Fish often swallow hooks, and anglers may try to retrieve a hook by shoving their fingers or pliers down the fish’s throat, ripping out not just the hook but some of the fish’s throat and guts as well. When fish are handled, the protective coating on their bodies is disturbed. These and other injuries make fish easy targets for predators once they are returned to the water.

Do Fish Feel Pain When They’re Caught?

Fish feel pain because, like all animals, they have nerves. Hooked fish struggle out of fear and physical pain, desperate to breathe. Once fish are hauled out of their aqueous environment and into ours, they begin to suffocate, and their gills often collapse. In commercial fishing, fish’s swim bladders can rupture because of the sudden change in pressure.

fish being dragged out of water©iStock.com/LawrenceSawyer

A wealth of scientific evidence shows that fish are highly intelligent, have great memories, and are socially sophisticated. They’ve been shown to use tools and even communicate with each other using sign language, squeaks, and squeals.

Fishing Gear Hurts Wildlife

Fishing gear—whether from catch-and-release, angling, or another method—hurts fish and other animals. Every year, anglers leave behind a trail of tackle victims that includes millions of birds, turtles, cats, and other animals who suffer debilitating injuries after they swallow fishhooks or become entangled in fishing line. Wildlife rehabilitators say that discarded fishing tackle is one of the greatest threats to aquatic animals.

What You Can Do to Help Fish

Instead of fishing, enjoy other activities in nature that don’t hurt animals, such as hiking, camping, and canoeing. Share this page to tell everyone you know that all fishing, including catch-and-release, injures wildlife.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind