Not fishing anymore because of guilt

Tupperware

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Hi, I am 28 and I have been following this forum since my mid teens (under different names). I last went fishing about 5 years ago. Since university I started to feel guilty about hurting animals so stopped fishing and have flirted with vegetarianism and veganism since then. I still want to go back to those great times of my youth where fishing gave me so much happiness, but i've been influenced by so much stuff since then. I'll be honest and say that I am worried about being seen as a bad person for 'abusing animals'. I've began to hate the concept of 'using' animals in any form. Yet the spark for fishing never died; it was a part of my childhood.

Recently i've reached the point where I want to start fishing again. I still remember the thrill it gave me and nothing will ever remove that. I'm wrestling with the animal rights issues and fishing still though. A lot of you older gents (or ladies?) will say its all nonsense, but please look at it from the perspective of someone who is in their twenties and the kind of ideas that are commonly held among us nowadays. Can any of you help me with this?
 

Trogg

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It's simple really, you either accept all the science that fish don't feel pain etc and continue fishing or you acceptt the disney ideals that fish all have names, families, have lessons etc and give up fishing.
 

Tupperware

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The philosopher Renee Descartes used to cut open dogs thinking they weren't experiencing pain, is this what we are talking about? Please send me any studies showing fish don't feel pain. I really want it to be true.
 

Neil ofthe nene

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I look at the issue from a few perspectives.

First is my experience over near 60 years of fishing. I catch fish that have terrible injuries caused by natural predators, avian and aquatic. Yet these fish are still feeding and acting as if there was nothing wrong. A similar injury in a mammal, particularly Homo Sapiens would have that animal prostrate with pain. When a hooked fish feels no pressure from the angler trying to land it it acts pefectly normally. No panic, no signs of distress and again, it still eats. We catch fish carrying hooks having broken off when hook previously.

This experience leads me to believe that fish do not feel pain as we would understand it.

Many predators eat fish. We cannot prevent that nor should we (except for cormorants and zander). We eat fish, many if not all fish are a source of food in the food chain. Whether we fish or not that will continue. But we do try and minimise any distress and loss of fish life by returning our catch alive and the use of "fish friendly" parts of our tackle.

People eat fish. Do they really care how those fish are caught and treated? Dragged out of the water with no free will about their capture. Dumped on the deck of a ship and then either left to die a slow death or gutted while alive. Compared to the care most anglers take with their catch most of the time the practice of trawling, drift netting and other commercial fishing methods are barbaric as weell as being non selective killing many other species in the process. Yet I am willing to bet that many who condemn us for fishing will happily eat their cod & chips on a Friday night without a thought of the treatment of their meal.

The fish we catch are not, in the main hunted. The fish have a free choice whether to take a bait or not, and most don't. Compare that to hunting where the prey has no option.

Many fish woukld not exist if it were not for being bred and stocked into waters. Anglers have, for decades, been the conservators of our waterways. We are guardians of the environment in a way that most non anglers are not. We have fought for maintained or improved habitats habitats, cleaner rivers, a better environment while most non anglers had no idea about such matters. But those people now benefit from our stewardship.

As an "animal lover" I have thought this matter through many times in 60 years and still come to the conclusion that I do little damage to, cause little distress to and kill few fish. Should we stop driving cars because of road kill? Man, as with many animals, has sought fish as a source of food for as long as we and the fish have existed side by side. Today angling is a development of that hunter gatherer instinct. But one that is, in the main, practiced as humanely as possible and IMHO causes no pain as I know it to our quarry.

P.S. I rarely eat fish.
 

Blanks

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I would say if you have such strong feelings this way you will never make an angler as you will always see the fish you catch in these terms.
You are right to follow your concience as are we all, I would never reccomend doing somthing you are unhappy with.
I do not know of any scientific studies that prove fish have no physical feelings of pain but I do know that even recently while fishing without a keepnet I caught the same fish an hour apart. There is also the case that fish pull hard against the angler which would not be the case if they felt pain in the same way we do.
I do know that most anglers care about the fish they catch and the enviroment in which they live and fish for them in the most humane way possible.
At the end of the day we are using a hook that penetrates the fishes body and will cause discomfort and fear.
 

Lee Richards

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For every study that says yes there will be one that will say no.
You admit that your life path has been subject to influence and now you are asking for information to influence your decision making again.

The bias on a forum dedicated to angling is only ever going to be going one way and to seek approval without a subjective balance is ridiculous.
 

nejohn

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My view is there are far too many people out there influencing young minds to a way of thinking that suits the influencer...may be the best bet for you will be to stop seeking advice, stop listening to other people, stop asking for permission and start thinking for yourself, do some research of your own from many sources then digest it and make your own mind up, if you are comfortable with the idea of angling then carry on, if not then stop but only you can really make that decision
 

Tenacious Sloth

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I don’t know whether fish feel pain or not. What I do know is that they do feel distress after being hooked, indicated by their charging around the swim On the end of your line.

Unfortunately, much like you, fishing is an itch I just have to scratch. Does this make me a bad person? Possibly. But what I can do is try and reduce the distress to the fish by various means, such as reducing the time out of water to a minimum, not handling the fish more than necessary, not using a keepnet, etc. etc.

I find I can live with myself if I do everything I can to reduce the distress experienced by the fish, short of actually fishing for them.

I used to find trout fishing easier to justify as in a bizarre way, killing and eating the fish is, in the end, some sort of justification for putting them through it.

Finally, you’re right to question these things, as in the end you’ll be a better fisherman for it, from the fishes perspective at least.
 

Dave

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I feel sorry for a lot of the youth of today as they are subjected to so many influencers through social media, TV, friends and colleagues, they cannot go out and find their own feet for fear of upsetting someone somewhere. Twenty-eight years old and you are not able to use your own conscience to dictate what path you wish to go down. You've already flirted with vegetarianism and veganism but why, because the society and circles you live in tell you that it's the correct way to live your life?

Do fish feel pain? Research shows that fish do not have the pain receptors that we humans and other mammals have and therefore concludes that they cannot feel pain as we perceive it.
Fish as a food source? Many vegetarians still eat fish as a valuable source of protein yet will shun meat from mammals.
Veganism? To me it is a fad driven by a hardcore minority of people and jumped upon by the retail industry, food processors, and those wishing to exploit a 'new' market. Plant derived burgers, etc, are getting a lot of press time at the moment yet whilst they promote the advantages to the environment/climate they seldom if at all touch on the process of manufacture which is quite intense; a bit like the electric car argument, clean and good for the environment but where do the batteries and electricity come from to power them?

You have to find your own feet, experiment, do your own research, do what you yourself feel comfortable doing. You are on this planet once and ask any elder and they will tell you that it is a relatively short period of time putting everything into perspective.
True friends and colleagues will accept you for what you are, not try to influence your life, not shun you or turn away because they do not agree with your life choices. Heck I'm an avid fisherman, I own what its reputed to be the largest fishing website in the UK, I stick hooks in maggots and worms, catch and release fish (sometimes), yet one of my nephews is a lawyer specialising in animal welfare and is/was very active in the animal rights groups and campaigns to the point of spending some of his life 'at her majesty's pleasure' on several occasions. We don't always agree on what is right and wrong but I respect his right to follow his beliefs and likewise he respects mine.
 

Truly

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''I have changed my mind'' is an often heard phrase. What may be more appropriate is ''My mind has changed me''.
Follow the lights of your own conscience, as to do otherwise is unhelpful in a whole range of ways.
As you travel through life, your views are likely to change on a whole range of issues.
Be true to yourself and enjoy life's journey.
 

Cobweb

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I fish because I enjoy doing so. Why I enjoy it you can speculate or generalise about as much as you like. I also love seafood, am a Cordon Bleu trained cook, and have caught and eaten what I have hooked many times. In terms of do I cause pain to the fish during the process? Why not ask the same question about eating flesh generally whether associated with some quasi religious belief about eating another creature (or not)? You likely do and what conclusion(s) have you arrived at? From your post you don't seem to have arrived at any at all yet. I'm experiencing a feeling of an impending theology debate here, but as I am an atheist, and one of the simple folk, I'll just leave you to reach a decision of your own, bearing in mind of course the law of consequence. Most of us understand that there are consequences to every action we take. We either recognise and accept such things, or ignore them - either way when our actions are questioned we are likely not going to be objective in our responses

I've just read what @Dave has posted. Casting my mind back to when I was 28, I was making arrangements to get married for the first time, starting a new job in the City of London, and raise a family. I had no time on my hands to start thinking about anything else but success, and women. I'd left my student utopian societal ideologies behind and adopted action centred objectives. Personally, if your post is an honest and genuine one, I believe the vibes you are giving out indicate that you are not ready to come back to, or restart angling.

You'll know when you are - should that realisation ever slap you in the mush like a wet fish tail
 
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Arry

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Look at it this way.... try and crunch a mussel shell or a live crayfish with YOUR mouth.... you can't because of the pain involved.... now ask yourself how fish to it... and keep doing it smaller fish crunch water snails and caddis (a dragonfly larvae covered in a shell of small stones... As an angling coach I've been on the receiving end of antis... most of them are ignorant of a lot of facts... or deliberately misinformed to further the Anti's cause
 

Silver fan 82

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I'm not sure if you're looking for people to tell you what to do or not?
But as someone else has said the forum is full of anglers who are passionate about what they do so I think most of the answers you will receive will lean in one direction.
I personally believe that the fact that you are even contemplating not fishing because of guilt you have already made your mind up. Give it a break and come back to it when and if you're sure it's for you or not.
In your OP you say you've not been fishing for 5 years! Mate I get itchy fingers after 5 days! I think you have already made your mind up deep down?
 

BBear

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It does sound to me that fishing isn’t for you. Nothing wrong with that as it’s not for everyone.

just be sure it’s because the way you feel about it, rather than just being worried about what other people, from a certain section of society, feel. You can’t go through life basing your decisions on what other people might think rather than what you know is right for you.
 

rufcuk

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Firstly have a bacon sandwich to cure your veganism - and just go fishing - either you can do it or you can’t - if your wanting someone to discuss pros and cons and ethics in a lengthy debate I suggest a therapist - everyone on here is pro fishing but there patience will only stretch so far when they advise you to go for it - sorry for being so blunt but I modern society it is something that is needed
 
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Browner

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Look at it this way.... try and crunch a mussel shell or a live crayfish with YOUR mouth.... you can't because of the pain involved.... now ask yourself how fish to it... and keep doing it smaller fish crunch water snails and caddis (a dragonfly larvae covered in a shell of small stones... As an angling coach I've been on the receiving end of antis... most of them are ignorant of a lot of facts... or deliberately misinformed to further the Anti's cause
I totally agree. It happens right across wildlife. Carnivorous predictors eat their prey raw. Try eating raw chicken and see what happens. They crunch through bones or eat their pray whole, fur, bones, guts the lot. They drink from the dirtiest water sources. Try drinking from a puddle and see what happens.
Not only are humans pain receptors different to animals but our digestive systems are very different too.
 
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