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Catch and release fishing. For or against?

Millions of people worldwide enjoy the sport of fishing. I always say that one of the beauties of fishing is that it can be enjoyed by so many people on so many different levels. Some people enjoy the sport and practice ‘catch and release fishing’ while others catch to eat some or all of what they catch.

  Phang Nga

Different cultures have different philosophies regarding what they consider an enjoyable or successful day’s fishing. In Thailand it seems it’s all about eating ones catch with emphasis on the tastiest way to cook one’s quarry. This practice is the same for most Asian cultures. When faced with the option to participate in catch and release fishing, many Asian people simply don’t understand the concept.

Western cultures usually have a mixture of anglers who catch and keep and those who catch and release. I meet anglers from all over the world and was quite surprised over the last few years to learn that some western countries don’t allow catch and release fishing at all. Their beliefs are that animals feel pain so catch and release is actually cruelty to animals.

Germany and Switzerland are prime examples with both countries banning catch and release fishing. The German Animal Welfare act states that “No one may cause an animal pain, suffering or harm without good reason“. German authorities say that it is OK to catch them and eat them as long as they are above a minimum size limit. The downside of this, which some are now starting to question, is that if you kill all the larger fish which are your breeding stock then where will future stocks come from?

In most western countries, including my home country of Canada, most people keep a few smaller sized table fish over the course of the year but generally practice catch and release. Canada and the USA both have certain laws regarding size limits for keeping or releasing fish. In some cases, the intention is to protect the larger fish which reproduce but in others certain larger fish must be released due to the build-up of toxins which are harmful to humans if ingested.

In some countries there are laws regarding certain species which must be killed irrelevant of size. This is the case in Australia, where all carp must be killed and disposed of away from the water’s edge. This law is based on the threat of invasive species to the natural environment and most Aussie anglers I have discussed this with agree with its importance.

Whatever your thoughts regarding catch and release, please respect all local laws and remember to take a kid fishing whenever possible.

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