Angling ethics

Marcus

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Evolution and ethics. . .

Evolution and ethics. . .

I have a lot of problem with people who equate the pleasure of fishing with sadism. I strongly disagree with the above quotes.

Sadism is a emotional disorder. Fishing, on the other hand, is enjoyed the world over by normal, well adjusted people.

I like to explain our enjoyment of fishing from an evolutionary point of view. The argument goes something like this. We, humans, eat to stay alive. And we have evolved to enjoy the pursuit of hunting and fishing because if we didn't we would not have survived as a species. The enjoyment is there whether you kill the fish or not. The killing is irrelevant in terms of the pleasure. I believe that natural selection far back in human history made us enjoy the pursuits of fishing and hunting.

It's a simple argument. I can't prove it because there is, as yet, no gene associated with the pleasure. But it's there. The idea that all of us are somehow sick because we like to fish - is preposterous.

If we take their logic further we shouldn't enjoy what we eat either. After all something must die for that pleasure also. So, eating should be done with no apetite (there's an idea. How did we get apetite?) and the pursuit of food should be done with no passion. Thank you, but not thanks. That's not my world.

I agree with you inasmuch as one's ethics are to large degree subjective. While few of us would argue the ethics of, say, cold-blooded murder, much else is left to individual judgement. I know lots of good folks who practice catch-and-release.

I disagree, however, with any notion of evolutionary and materialistic ethics and morality. We are much, much more than DNA in blind pursuit of survival of the species.
 

skipjack

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It's not an evolutionary explanation of ethics and morality. It's an evolutionary explanation of why we enjoy eating and why we enjoy the pursuit of food.

As you know, natural selection is not a blind pursuit of survival of the species. It's directed.

I'm not saying that it's the answer to everything in life. I am just addressing the subject at hand.

I guess what set me off was the quote that we are all somehow secretly enjoying hurting all of these animals and are looking for ways to justify ourselves with our 'sporting' techniques. I find that to be a really low blow.
 

Marcus

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To each his own. . .

To each his own. . .

I guess what set me off was the quote that we are all somehow secretly enjoying hurting all of these animals and are looking for ways to justify ourselves with our 'sporting' techniques. I find that to be a really low blow.

No low-blow intended, skipjack, nor do the quotes imply anyone secretly enjoys hurting animals. Nevertheless, it's inescapable that c&r anglers force fish to violently express their insticts for survival, stressing all, and killing some in the process. Now one may rationalize that in a number of ways, e.g., for recreation, staying in touch with nature, whatever, but any way one cuts that cheese, one has to defend using an animal's life for fun.

But we do the same in other ways too: bullfighting, sled-dog racing, horse racing, and much more. In all cases, mustn't we come to the conclusion that the benefits—however defined—outweigh the costs to the animal?

Just because something's acceptable or ethical to us doesn't mean it's acceptable and ethical to everyone. Just because we think something's harmless doesn't mean that it is in reality. To each his own. . . short of murder and obvious things like that. . .
 

yukon

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Check out these links. If some have it their way we would not be fishing at all. I am not going to argue ethics as we each have our own, for the record, I catch and eat as well as catch and release.



http://www.nofishing.net/Angling.asp

http://www.animal-lib.org.au/lists/fish/fish.shtml

The following text is from the above site:

What YOU Can Do

Choose ways of relaxing and enjoying the outdoors that do not cause suffering to animals.

If people you know won't give up fishing, at least try to convince them to kill fish as soon as they are pulled from the water, rather than removing hooks while they are still alive and letting them suffocate.

In NSW, fish come under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA). Write to the Minister for Agriculture and say how barbaric you consider gaffing, live-baiting and big-game fishing to be. Say you want them banned as cruel under the provisions of POCTA.
 

skipjack

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Sorry Marcus. I've tried to relate why I believe people love to fish. How deep seated it is with us. You however keep stating your position about the unfairness of it all.

Here's my suggestion. Let's have it your way. Let's deny that we enjoy fishing. Let's just drive down to the Russian River and have ADFG just hand us a couple of dead salmon for the freezer. Just plop them in your van and drive off. We get the food. And our conscience doesn't bother us about the fish we killed. It's fresh salmon so you are a step above getting it from Safeway.

I submit that not many of us would like that very much.

The problem is that your views are inconsistent. You enjoy fishing. Food or no food. You enjoy fishing. And yet you think it's wrong to feel that way. As I see it your morals are not in sync with who you are. Please don't misunderstand. This is not personal. I am not suggesting hypocrisy. I am suggesting that there are opposing forces in your value system. How you feel. And how think you should feel.
 

Marcus

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What am I missing?

What am I missing?

Sorry Marcus. I've tried to relate why I believe people love to fish. How deep seated it is with us. You however keep stating your position about the unfairness of it all.

Here's my suggestion. Let's have it your way. Let's deny that we enjoy fishing. Let's just drive down to the Russian River and have ADFG just hand us a couple of dead salmon for the freezer. Just plop them in your van and drive off. We get the food. And our conscience doesn't bother us about the fish we killed. It's fresh salmon so you are a step above getting it from Safeway.

I submit that not many of us would like that very much.

The problem is that your views are inconsistent. You enjoy fishing. Food or no food. You enjoy fishing. And yet you think it's wrong to feel that way. As I see it your morals are not in sync with who you are. Please don't misunderstand. This is not personal. I am not suggesting hypocrisy. I am suggesting that there are opposing forces in your value system. How you feel. And how think you should feel.

skipjack: Where have I ever said or implied that I don't love fishing? I do and have been loving, liking, and enjoying it for close to 60 years now. Sorry for the misunderstanding, especially if it's my fault, but you're simply mistaken about my lack of love for fishing.

Maybe the difference here is my definition of fishing. To me, fishing is angling with the intent to kill fish to eat. If the intent to harvest isn't there, it's not fishing to me.

So let me hear back—please cite specific instances of the "opposing forces" in my value system. In the meantime, let me worry about how I feel about fishing—I'm perfectly willing to do the same for you.
 

yukon

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If ethics and feelings about fishing are personal and individual, why don't we just keep them to ourselves?
 

skipjack

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Here's the problem.

You enjoy fishing. And yet the quotes you defend state that fishing is, in essence, sadistic. So you feel it's sadistic but you enjoy it at the same time. It's pretty straightforward. I feel that kind of argument is counterproductive. You box yourself in.

I just wanted to say something else about catch and release.

Catch and release was never created with any moral or ethical view in mind. It was created as a way to manage a fishery. It may not be that valuable in Alaska where these huge salmon runs occur and these fish are going to die whether you eat them or not. But in places like Montana it made a real big difference. Prior to catch and release fish were planted in streams and later caught and kept. The result was that you had these rainbows with deformed fins that never grew over 12 inches long. Nobody was pleased. Wild trout never grew to their full potential because they had to compete with hatchery fish for food. The bug populatioins were down because the streams were overgrazed by the overwhelming numbers of fish. The fishermen brought home inferior tasting fish. And yes, the pleasure of catching a planter isn't much fun either.

So catch and release was a great step forward in the management of fisheries. Fish and Game knows that and would never go back to the old days.

Let's face it recreational fishing is here to stay.
 

GEC1000

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Thinking like the Romans

Thinking like the Romans

Present day America must be much like the years leading up to the fall of the Roman Empire. We, like the Romans, seek pleasure. Many of us enjoy our fully developed society to the extent the affluent may do as they wish. In this case wealthy sports enthusiasts, who are certainly not hungry, support the idea that playing with (occasionally killing) the fish is ethical. It suits their purpose to take this posture. But really, when you think it through, ethics are situational, and have little to do with it. The ethics the rich are able to adopt are from far from those the poor can afford. For instance, if you are poor and hungry, there is no way, regardless of regulations, or a rich man's ethics, you would release a fish. You simple would not care how the fish came to shore; you would pick it up, take great care of it, and feed it to your family.
 

Marcus

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Whatever. . .

Whatever. . .

yukon: Because ethics, regardless of how personal and individual, have social implications. . . I'm disappointed. .

skipjack: Whatever. . . we plainly don't understand each other. . .

GEC1000: Are all ethics situational?
 

yukon

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Sorry to disappoint you, yes they do have social inplications but this is fishing, it is becomes intertwined with management.

Your quote, "In the meantime, let me worry about how I feel about fishing—I'm perfectly willing to do the same for you."

Why do you feel the need to share your views and the quotes of many others with the internet world? Are you advocating or just sharing personal beliefs?
 

Marcus

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What's the problem?

What's the problem?

Sorry to disappoint you, yes they do have social inplications but this is fishing, it is becomes intertwined with management.

Your quote, "In the meantime, let me worry about how I feel about fishing—I'm perfectly willing to do the same for you."

Why do you feel the need to share your views and the quotes of many others with the internet world? Are you advocating or just sharing personal beliefs?

So what are you advocating — that because individual and personal ethics and feelings have management implications we should all keep silent? Tell you what — I will when everyone else does.

But to answer your question above — am I advocating of just sharing — I'm doing both. This thread began with the question, "If you are there just to fight a fish on light tackle, and someone else is there to harvest food, who is right?" Am I not allowed to answer, sharing my own beliefs and convictions as well as those of others?

What's the problem? You're free to agree or disagree. . .
 

yukon

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I just find it amazing that people argue and agrue, or discuss and discuss as if we will change each others minds. Believe me, I am always in for a philosophical discussion but after a while it becomes pointless.
I'm out, I will leave it up to you all.

My answer to the origninal question without going on and on is........









BOTH!
 

GEC1000

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sorting through the ethics pile....

sorting through the ethics pile....

Marcus, to the extent ethics might be applied to fishing by humans, yes, I believe all could be considered situational. On a different site, and subject, my answer would again depend on the situation. That seems to me how ethics work, and why, I believe the word is easily misapplied.
 

Marcus

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Pointless discussion? Not even close. . .

Pointless discussion? Not even close. . .

I just find it amazing that people argue and agrue, or discuss and discuss as if we will change each others minds. Believe me, I am always in for a philosophical discussion but after a while it becomes pointless. I'm out, I will leave it up to you all.
My answer to the origninal question without going on and on is......BOTH!

Well, you've done lost me. Ted Kerasote, one of our premier outdoor authors, has dealth with catch-and-release in a couple of his recent books. John McPhee, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, devoted a whole chapter to c&r in his newest book. What's the problem?

In an earlier post on this thread, you yourself say, "If some have it their way we would not be fishing at all." Well, c&r is germane to that concern. If I haven't shared it before, consider this opinion from a Canadian Web site:


What is the purpose of this? There is no question that it is simply for the enjoyment of the angler. An opportunity to control another species and exert control, even if only for a short time. There is certainly a thrill in hooking a fish and successfully landing it. Of course, there is also the enjoyment of all the other pleasures in being outdoors.

So why is Catch and Release fishing seen by many anglers as an honorable thing to do? Why do many fly fishers look down with disdain upon those who want to keep at least some of what they catch to eat later? Probably the biggest reason why catch and release has become so popular in recent years is the acknowledgement that as intelligent beings, we need to be stewards of our resources and act in ways that are consistent with conservation. On many rivers, if fishing is to continue, catch and release regulations must be put in place and enforced. As anglers, we are not prepared to give up fishing, so catch and release seems to be a good method of enjoying our sport while believing that we can also ensure good conservation practices.

You know what folks? This isn't going to work for us much longer. To many people, catch and release fishing is no different than a rodeo. If you were really concerned about populations of salmon and steelhead, why bother fishing for them at all? The only real reason is that the angler gets some selfish pleasure out of controlling a fish. If you want to enjoy nature, go for a walk along the river. If you take some thrill in being able to accurately cast a hook with feather and fur attached, why do it on a river?

I am not going to advocate that C & R fishing be stopped. But you must agree that an angler that eats what he catches at least has some other purpose in mind other than simply controlling a fish when he/she is angling. I am suggesting that we had better think about the issues that are involved here. As anglers, we need to cast off the prejudices and elitism that some of us hold regarding what we think is sporting or ethical. If we don't, we are going to have a very difficult time defending our sport against those that want to stop it. We are going to have to find a lot of common ground together. C & R purists and those of us that like to eat what we catch need to rethink our attitudes towards fishing, and come up with better reasons for continuing our sport. If you don't think so, then take a look at this Press Release issued by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in which they announce a new TV commercial with Linda McCartney aimed at changing the public's attitudes about fishing.

If we don't get together on this one, in 50 years from now, it won't matter whether you think C & R is truly sporting or not.
 

Marcus

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Natural Law. . .

Natural Law. . .

Marcus, to the extent ethics might be applied to fishing by humans, yes, I believe all could be considered situational. On a different site, and subject, my answer would again depend on the situation. That seems to me how ethics work, and why, I believe the word is easily misapplied.

Thanks. . . are you then saying that ethcal issues such as murder, theft, general beneficence, mercy—in short, the ethical issues which comprise and define Natural Law—are all situational? That there is no such thing as Natural Law? No such thing as a transcendent moral code binding on all men in all times and in all places?
 

GEC1000

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Wow

Wow

No, I am simply saying, that ethics as they might be applied to fishing by humans are situational. Murder, that topic is more appropriately discussed on the Law and Order forum.
 

Marcus

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Opinions. . .

Opinions. . .

No, I am simply saying, that ethics as they might be applied to fishing by humans are situational. Murder, that topic is more appropriately discussed on the Law and Order forum.

Thanks again. Nowhere to go with that now except to say I disagree. If you want to pursue the subject in another forum, please let me know.
 

GEC1000

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Which part?

Which part?

You disagree that ethics are situational? Perhaps a clarification of my thinking will help. Over time there have been, and continue to be, many studies of ethics. The topic has been broken down, Medical, Legal, and I am sure if you look hard enough, sports, etc. etc. The categories and groups were formed in an attempt to identify, single out, and label individual behaviors as either ethical or unethical. When you study the findings of all this work the idea that most ethics are situational begins to form. A famous example of how behaviors, and acceptance of behaviors, ergo ethics, is the case of Burr and Hamilton in the early 1800's. The Vice President of our nation shoots and kills a fellow Statesman and is never indicted, in fact, finishes his term in Washington. The ethics of the time were such that you could call a fellow human out onto the field of honor without recourse. Now, I know this is a stretch, however, fishing ethics, and more specifically, one of your favorite behavioral topics, C & R, are embraced by modern America, very much like dueling was in the early 1800's. Most people in the USA accept C&R as being ethical. It is memorialized in our rules and laws, ergo; widely accepted by a large group of sportsman as, quote, ethical. One hundred years ago the group was most likely much smaller, in fact, even having a conversation like this one may have been viewed as totally frivolous considering the number of people living hand to mouth during that period.
 

Marcus

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Almost. . .

Almost. . .

Moral prohibitions such as murder and wanton waste and moral imperatives such as conservation and more are transcendent of time, place, and culture. How a particular culture or time responds to those kind of certitudes defines the culture—whether the antebellum South, Saudi Arabia, or contemporary angling practice. Just because some subculture accepts something as ethical doesn't mean it is transcendentally. The last I knew, c&r was illegal in Norway, maybe too in Germany.

As for the recent past, if anyone had suggested to my dad to go fishing and let fish go, he'd have thought them crazy. As for the future, who knows? Maybe John McPhee does:

"If I were strolling through the annals of incorrectness—up past the invertible heroism of General Custer and on through the safaris of Dennis Finch-Hatton—I would expect to discern, out there in the future, catch-and-release fishing," —John McPhee, The Founding Fish
 

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