A Vegan’s Take On Fishing

“Is it really a sport if you have all the equipment and your opponent doesn’t know a game is going on?” – Bill Maher

My thoughts about the two “sports” of fishing and hunting are basically the same. I believe that hunting and fishing are misguided efforts to connect with nature in ways that are actually destructive. For the purposes of this post, I’ll address more specifically my philosophy about fishing, as it’s far more common as a form of recreation than hunting, and it’s causing more damage to our environment.

I have several friends who fish and I get why they do it. It’s a way for them to get outside, often with friends, and spend some time on the water while pursuing an aim or a goal. To them, it’s fun, relaxing, and fulfilling, and it’s often one of their favorite things to do in the world.

I myself didn’t have an opinion of fishing one way or another, until I became more aware of the ways in which our society treats other beings, and the effect that this has on animals, the environment, and ourselves.

It turns out that fish are sensate creatures who experience a great deal of pain when they are wrenched out of the water so that they can suffocate, slowly, to death. Even more humane catch and release methods of fishing cause so much trauma to the fish that many of them die.

To make matters worse, recreational fishing is helping to empty our oceans of life, contributing to the annihilation of entire ecosystems. Most people aren’t aware that our oceans are on the brink of collapse, and that this is mostly caused by a. the water pollution caused by animal waste from industrial agriculture and b. overfishing. In the past 50 years, our society has seen an unprecedented rise in fish consumption, compounded by our ever-burgeoning population. As a result, our oceans have 90% less large fish than there were in 1950.

Had we not relentlessly overfished our oceans and polluted them with waste from animal agriculture, our oceans would be thriving the way that they were meant to.

Although most overfishing is caused by commercial fishing companies, the effects of sport fishing are not negligible. A study conducted by Florida State University revealed that recreational fishing accounts for killing almost 25% of overfished saltwater species.

Aside from the considerable amount of fish that are taken from our dying oceans in the name of sport, the idea of fishing as an acceptable form of recreation helps to reinforce false perceptions in our society. These include the concepts that preying on helpless beings is innocuous and that it doesn’t matter what we do to the environment.

Fish – not as healthy as we were taught

Whether we get fish from commercial or sport fishing, they are unhealthy and potentially dangerous to consume. Not only do fish have high amounts of fat and cholesterol, but they accumulate carcinogens in their flesh as the result of water pollution. Chemical residues concentrate in the fat of fish, where they can be up to 9 million times more toxic than the surrounding waters in which they swim. Some of the more well-known dangerous toxins found in fish are mercury and PCB’s.

The fact that fish contain omega 3’s still doesn’t mitigate the inherent hazards of consuming fish, and we can easily obtain plant-based forms of omega 3’s from foods like flaxseed, algae, chia, hemp seeds, and walnuts.

Other ways to connect with nature

There are tons of other ways to commune with nature that don’t involve killing other species, such as: walking, trail running, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, biking, swimming, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding, stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga, and surfing. More low key activities involving the outdoors could be gardening, reading a book on the beach, meditating, birdwatching, or simply watching the sunset.

So there are my thoughts on fishing! It’s very unpopular message, but as with all animal welfare and environmental issues, it must be shared. To learn more about overfishing, and the probability that the ocean will run out of fish by 2048, check out this Dutch documentary called Sea The Truth.

Another great ocean-themed documentary is Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson, which chronicles the game changing work of Sea Shepherd’s controversial founder.

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