Anglers Bite the Bloodsports Line
Anglers finally admitted that their
'sport' is a bloodsport when they announced a pact between three main angling
groups and the hunting and shooting fraternity. The Salmon and Trout
Association, the National Federation of Anglers and the National Federation of
Sea Anglers formally agreed to support and work closely with the British Field
Sports Society (BFSS) and the recently formed Countryside Business Group. The
announcement was made at the first National Angling Conference in October '95.
The president of the National Federation of Anglers Ken Ball, has also become
a director of another new pro-bloodsports organisation, the Countryside
Movement. This group pretends to campaign to support rural life and issues, but
the majority of its funding is from bloodsports enthusiasts who are trying to
mislead the public into supporting the slaughter of wildlife for fun.
Anglers have long denied that fish feel pain and that fishing is a
bloodsport, but with this announcement they have shown their true colours. The
opposition from animal rights campaigners has forced them to align themselves
with people who get enjoyment from terrorising foxes by digging them out or
watching a hare being ripped apart between the jaws of two greyhounds.
This move has caused great controversy within the angling fraternity. Many
anglers are outraged by this official link with other bloodsports, which some
see as cruel, while others are concerned because it will prompt the public to
link angling with these other bloodsports. Already the angling bodies have
realised their big mistake. Since the conference, the National Federation of
Anglers (NFA) have made two announcements trying to distance themselves from
other bloodsports. However the wave of adverse publicity has helped the
anti-angling cause tremendously and Pisces will continue to keep up the
Pro-Bloodsports Group Commissions Fish and Pain Report
obtained a copy of the confidential draft of a report commissioned by the
British Field Sports Society (the main PR group for bloodsports) and three of
the UK's main angling groups. The 'Fish Welfare Literature Review' by Dr Tom
Pottinger looks at three areas of concern associated with angling: physiological
stress, physical damage and pain.
Since this research was completed earlier in 1995, it has been stated by the
BFSS and repeated by the media and the Labour Party, that it provides evidence
that fish do not feel pain in the same way as humans. However, as the draft
document states in section 5.6, this is not the case, "There is no information
available in the literature at present which provides firm evidence that fish
perceive pain as mammals apparently do or, conversely, that they cannot perceive
pain as mammals do. On balance, it seems unlikely that fish experience pain as
understood by humans. However, the problem of assessing exactly what a fish
perceives when exposed to stimuli considered to be noxious or unpleasant in
human terms, may prove to be intractable."
So even this report commissioned to show that angling is not cruel, can't say
for sure. This contrasts with the growing number of leading scientists who have
spoken out forcefully on the pain and stress caused to fish by angling, e.g.
Prof Donald Broom of Cambridge University, Prof John Webster of Bristol
University, Steven Kestin, also of Bristol University and Prof Verheijen of
Utrecht University. For further details please contact Pisces (address below).
Labour Party Supports Angling
In the UK, the Labour Party have publicly
shown support for anglers in their 'Charter for Anglers' (published in June
1995). Yet Labour are the political party who have a policy against hunting.
Labour's spokesperson for animal welfare Elliot Morley MP says, "...it is
unlikely that fish feel pain in the same way that mammals would." He bases this
on a study (see below) funded by the British Field Sports Society (the main PR
group for bloodsports) and three of the main angling groups.
Labour obviously think that it is acceptable for fish to be subjected to pain
by anglers, as long as that pain is not in the same way as humans.
Secondly Elliot Morley says "...we cannot oppose fishing as long as people
eat fish since there is little practical difference between sports fishing and
commercial fishing." Yet Labour comes out against deer hunting when people eat
venison. Hunting and angling are alike in that they are both carried out for
The real reason for Labour's pro-angling policy is the fear of
losing votes from what they perceive as a strong angling lobby. Help us to show
Labour that they have misjudged the strength of feeling against the cruel
bloodsport of angling. Please write to Elliot Morley MP or your own Labour MP at
the House of Commons, London, SE1 1AA.