All About Animals: The Issues (Ages 11-14): Fishing

id you know that fish never close their eyes? Or that some fish hide their babies inside their mouths? It’s true! At the first sign of danger, they open their mouths and let their babies swim inside! Fish have very sharp vision and can also smell, touch, feel and taste, just like us. Plus, they can sense light, chemicals, vibrations and electricity. Fish have taste buds on their lips, tongues and all over their mouths. Some fish have whiskers that can taste, too, so they can taste their food before it even reaches their mouths! How great is that?!

Because fish look so different from us, many people don’t realise that they feel pain, too. Scientists tell us that being hooked hurts. Just like you can’t breathe for very long under water, fish can’t breathe when they’re out of water. Even fish who are thrown back into the water often die from their injuries.

Some people think that fishing is fun or that it’s OK because fish taste good, but others say that it is wrong to hurt fish. Read the two different points of view and make up your own mind.

An angler might say…

  • “There are lots of reasons to go fishing: It’s fun, it’s good to be out in the fresh air, and it can be exciting.”
  • “Fish don’t feel pain. The hooks don’t hurt them!”
  • “Angling helps keep rivers and riverbanks clean and tidy.”
  • “When fish are going to be eaten, they are killed quickly and handled carefully.”

Someone who thinks fishing is wrong might say…

  • “Fishing is not at all fun or exciting for the fish but there are lots of fun ways to spend time in the countryside without hurting fish: swimming, cycling, bird-watching, kite-flying, climbing trees or having a picnic.”
  • “Scientists know that fish feel pain, just like people do. It’s a fact!”
  • “Angling hurts other animals, too. Anglers often leave behind hooks or fishing line that can hurt birds and other animals who get caught in it.”
  • “Many fish die from the stress of being handled – no matter how careful the angler is.”

Talk About: Topics to Chat About!
1. What do you think about angling?
2. What things can you do to enjoy the outdoors without hurting fish?
3. Do you think it is OK to catch or kill fish for fun?
4. Is it OK to catch fish if you are going to eat them?
5. How would you feel if anglers put hooks through dogs’ mouths and dragged them out of their homes? How is that different from angling for fish?

You want more info? This is where to go:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Countryside Alliance