December 6, 2019

Does Opposing Catch and Release Align A Person With Animal Rights Groups?

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On a message board called New England Outdoor Voice, of which I am a member and an occasional poster, in a discussion about catch and release fishing, the topic, as always, turned to whether catch and release fishing is ethical. This particular discussion took a step a bit further than is the norm. The poster wrote: “when PETA C&R talking points are used here to denigrate C&R that IS “aligning” with PETA.” The argument here became that anyone who took a stand against catch and release (c&r) for ethical reasons automatically must be “aligned” with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) or other animal rights groups. I think making a statement of assumption that one is “aligned” with PETA because they opposed C&R fishing for ethical reasons, is equal to making the same assumption that those that promote C&R fishing are also “aligned” with PETA.

I am not qualified in any way to discuss any scientific need for C&R fishing for the overall health and good of a fisheries, so I will make every attempt to avoid that topic. It is also not my intention to try to somehow influence readers to my way of thinking as it pertains to ethics in the context of hunting, fishing and trapping. Within the laws written, my ethical barometer differs from all others. I am willing to share my thoughts but who am I to try to somehow force my ethical beliefs on others?

The author above wrote that when talking points of radical animal rights groups were used by a fisherman this “aligned” them with those groups. Not knowing exactly what the author’s intent of a definition for “aligning” is, I will turn to the dictionary: “to bring into cooperation or agreement with a particular group, party, cause, etc.: He aligned himself with the liberals.” (Note: I did not add the example of the sentence for the use of the word “aligned”.)

The definition says to “bring into” which implies some kind of action is needed in order for this to happen. One could therefore argue that if someone happens to make a statement that is similar or exactly like the position of any animal rights group, one would have to actually make an effort to “bring into” their “aligning” with such groups.

If I were to claim that the richest people in America should pay their fair share of taxes, because that is the position of the democratic party, does that “align” me with the democratic party and make me one of them? Perhaps if I had said, “I strongly agree with the democratic party on their position of paying taxes, I would be “bring[ing] into” an alignment with the party. I might even send them money or support them in other ways. To call me a liberal because of one small statement is dishonest and intended to mislead.

Those willing to study and understand the positions and years of statements and actions conducted by the large number of animal rights groups in this country, do gain an appreciation of the tactics used by these institutions to further their agendas. Often denied, incrementalism is used. This is the action of taking away any and all, tiny if necessary, freedoms and liberties enjoyed by hunters, fishermen and trappers. The ultimate goal is to end these activities.

One very successful stratagem used by groups like PETA and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), is to convince the general public that hunting, fishing and trapping are not “necessary”, that no longer do people “need” to hunt, fish and trap because we have grocery stores. Their goal is to indoctrinate the people that there is no requisite for these activities and over the years have successfully labeled hunters, fishermen and trappers as “sports” or that the activities they enjoy are for sport and entertainment only.

If that battle becomes successful, the greater war on the abolition of “sport” hunting, sport fishing and sport trapping will be sooner realized. When the need to hunt, fish and trap is removed, then all that is left is the entertainment value. When the general public begins to perceive these activities as entertainment, then the task of classifying outdoor sportsmen as a blood thirsty, perverse and, yes, unethical lot, becomes so much easier.

Doesn’t it therefore make sense that someone who enjoys hunting, fishing and trapping would not be looking to “align” themselves with groups that want to take away their enjoyment? To make the claim that anyone opposing C&R fishing is “aligning” themselves with PETA, either doesn’t believe anything about the objectives of animal rights activists or they have another agenda.

The same twisted logic can be used to claim that anyone who promotes C&R fishing aligns themselves with PETA or other groups. If you believe what these organizations write on their websites, it doesn’t take long to see that what seems to be bees in their bonnets is when people are “cruel” to animals and use “unethical” means of exploiting them. And, if anything, they seem to offer a bit of slack in cases where people “need” to hunt, fish and trap for sustenance.

For those that argue against C&R fishing for ethical reasons, using the same logic, can accuse those who promote C&R fishing as being “aligned” with PETA. I don’t believe for a minute this is the case, no more than I believe those who oppose C&R fishing align in the same way. This is simply a matter of personal ethics.

I have heard it said about hunting, fishing and trapping that ethics is what a person does when nobody is looking. The meaning being that this is the time that a person will do what they believe right in their heart. Perhaps the conversations about ethics, more accurately described as preaching about my own ideals, should be left to the families around the dining room table.

What needs to be understood is how does C&R fishing effect the fishery?

Tom Remington

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