May 15, 2008

Limiting your fishing to catch and kill is the only way to fish ethically

At least, so say several European countries, Switzerland being the latest to join. Germany and Scandanavian countries have similar policies or, at the least, wideheld sentiments.

Is their logic fuzzy or flawless?

Primary motive being to decrease the suffering of animals (I can see that, it's cruel to trick an animal into chomping a piece of metal and making it fight for it's life only for your own pleasure...of course, I can live with that), they rebutt arguments about the conservation implications that mandatory killing of anything you catch will reduce overall fishing pressure.

OK. Maybe. Even probably. But at what cost? You remove conservation-minded anglers (who practice primarily catch and release) from the equation. I've always felt experiencing the outdoors breeds desire to protect it. By discouraging those likely to be conservation-minded from participating in the sport, aren't you potentially discouraging conservation? I know, it sounds like a little bit of a reach, but seriously, think about it: Are you conservation minded? How did you become so?

The idea behind proper fisheries management (in my opinion, and with regard to recreational fishing) should be to minimize mortalities with proper catch-and-release. While I highly doubt forbidding C&R will result in extirpiration (although it could) directly, in the long run we (they) could be sacraficing a tie between conservtion and recreation to be more ethical to wildlife.

What's more ethical to you, protecting a few individuals from a species from short-term harm, or the entire species from extinction?


Flying Ties said...

I'm not really sure how limiting to what you catch, you kill, will prevent species from going into extinction.

Around here its hard to get people to not kill more than what they're supposed to (if you want to keep your limit - fine - just don't take 15 trout and then throw 6 of them in the trash can because they're too small). I know that limits would be set and it certainly would lower fishing pressure (I'd fish a LOT less than I do. I'm not interested in keeping what I catch for no other reason than I don't want to be bothered cleaning it - that's why I don't hunt) but other than that, I see no reason it'd prevent extinction.

I think the whole idea of forcing people to kill what they catch really comes off as quite ridiculous. I understand the stress being put on fish by sticking a hook in their lip (or gills, or stomach) but why is it, then, that C&R fisheries have thriving populations of very healthy fish and put and take locations (given that they are good habitat) typically hold nothing really at all?

Lowering the limits won't help - people ignore them at what they are now.

Unfortunately I don't really think that anything is the real answer. The bottom line is that we're hunting fish and there will be casualties. I just think there would be more if people were forced to kill everything they caught. I also think there would be a lot more wasted fish.

FoulHooked said...

In short, Yes.

Mandatory catch & kill is not a wildlife management tool, it's an ethics enforcement tool. I don't agree with mandatory catch and kill because to me, preserving a viable species is more "ethical" than preventing "unnecessary" stresses to individuals of said species. There are scientifically linked implications to degrading a population, and they can be disastrous, and tragic. To put in place a catch and kill rule makes the individual more important than the community. Opinions on the philosophical implications that has are likely varied; ecological implications are not, in that the result is sure to be a "bad" thing.

Ethics has a place in wildlife management, but any environmental policy should be based first in sound science.