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Fishermen fear action by animal rights extremists

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,175-2328850,00.html
The Times
26 August 2006.
By Nicola Woolcock

THE activities of the Lobster Liberation Front may sound like a comedy sketch item.

However, a fervent defence of the lives of fish and sealife is behind a sinister development in the animal rights movement. Fishermen fear that they are the latest target of extremists prepared to use violent tactics to disrupt their sport. A group of anglers was attacked last week by hunt saboteurs, and fish farms have been vandalised and damaged recently.

Now the national umbrella organisation for fishing is demanding a meeting with the Home Office to discuss the safety of anglers. Jim Glasspool, the chairman of the Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust, said that it wanted to "ensure all steps are taken to protect innocent anglers from further attacks".

Users of internet fishing blogs are encouraging each other to contact their local police forces to demand what is being done to protect anglers. The change of ploy by activists coincides with an apparent decrease in the number of threats and acts of intimidation against those involved in animal testing. Yet saboteurs have been encouraged by the hunting ban and some anglers fear that they have become a new target because of it.

A bankside attack last week on fly-fishermen and women near Lancaster was blamed on hunt saboteurs who had failed to find any grouse-shooting parties. A group of 30 men armed with bats smashed up rods, threw stones, damaged cars and started fights. Two anglers were assaulted and a woman was punched in the face. Other individuals, businesses and matches have been targeted.

A posting on the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) website in March was headlined "trout abusers sabotaged". Activists broke into Newmill Trout and Deer Farm near Lanark, threw goods from the farm shop into a lake, cut brake cables on vehicles and slashed their tyres.

In the same month 60 lobster pots were dismantled in Scotland while slogans were spray-painted on fishermen's sheds. The Lobster Liberation Front (LLF) claimed responsibility.

Members of the LLF also slashed nets belonging to a fisherman in Dorset and draped them across his boats. Animal rights saboteurs were blamed for releasing 50,000 farmed fish into a
reservoir in Kent this year.

A spokesman for the National Federation of Anglers said that last week's animal rights attack on fishermen was not the first. He said: "Police have to clamp down on this. Anglers need to feel that they have the support of the authorities and are safe when they go fishing." On its website, the North West Hunt Saboteurs Association suggests that members read Angling Times to discover the location of popular venues and club meets. Forms of disruption it advocates include wiring up access gates, changing around anglers' peg numbers,
putting up "match cancelled" notices, rowing up and down the river, and using poles to lift fishing lines from the water.

Fished from the angler's blogs

# "I said this would bloody well happen! I said they would bloody well come after me once they did for fox hunting! Bloody sabs!"

# "Perhaps the sabs are too stupid to have worked out that this is a battle that they will not win"

# "Angling should have a code of conduct in dealing with these people. I would be interested in a proper, lawful defence"

# "These people are fundamentalists. You cannot reason with them"

# "The day I have to give up fishing because the lobbyists have somehow succeeded in getting it banned is the day I declare war on my countrymen"

# "The best defence is to have a united angling alliance. We need to portray and upkeep an image of guardians of the countryside and the environment"

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