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PETA and the Anti-Scout

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Well, I used to do catch and release every once in awhile. I'd cut the barbs off the hooks and file them down to try and do the least amount of damage. Then, one day, I wondered about the whole idea and why I was there. If I was going through all this trouble to try and not harm the fish, why not go the next step and just not drop the line in the first place. Mostly, I just like the idea of sitting around and relaxing under a nice shady tree near the water. So, I got myself a little radio control sailboat. I can sit in the the same spot on the lake, relax, and the boat hardly makes a ripple and doesn't bother the guys who want to fish. On the other hand, if they catch something good, I'm happy to help them eat it :)


PETA does some nutty things to play on the emotions of people, but they also have identified legitimate concerns over the treatment of animals in a variety of venues. Experimentation on animals for medical research can be acceptable if done in a humane and respectful manner. But as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to things like testing of new cosmetics and other non-essentials, not a single hair on a single animal should be harmed.

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The Christian-centrism of this thread is remarkable.


I wonder watcha would say to a Hindu or other scout whose religious tenets included reincarnation. The equation changes a lot if those animals we have "dominion" over may be the souls of our great-grandparents or future children.



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The ethical question concerning fishing can be addressed in different ways. First there is the belief that all living things have the same right to life. One may also look at the animal nature of humans, the holistic approach with the greatest benefit, and the basis for ethical reasoning. While some may call this Judeo-Christian or a western phylosophy, mainly the reasoning comes from an anthropocentric view of life and the world.


Do all living things have the same right to life? Believing that you have the right to fish is an anthropocentric stance. It requires that the human believes he is above the animal. To believe that we are equal with the fish is equivalent to the PETA statement that a cat is a rat is a boy. The ethical question is based on the assumption that humans and animals are equals, yet the very argument of ethics of humans and not of animals proves the point that animals and humans are not equal. You may argue then that we have the intellect to decide what is ethical or right but animals dont. By this mere fact that you believe you are more ethical than the animals, you automatically place yourself above the animals. From this position of superiority you have already diminished the innate value of other animals. If we were all equal then we would also be discussing the ethical requirements of animals.


To deny entertainment to humans is to deny our animal nature. If humans did not have a strong desire for play and entertainment we would not have the arts, sports, and literature that we have today. We do have reasoning power. We can control our actions and to some extent our environment. We cannot totally override our innate desires. You believe that catching a fish merely for the entertainment is ethically wrong. Is it also ethically wrong for the cat to play with the mouse even if will not kill it? Is it ethically wrong for the bear to waste the salmon by killing it and only eating a small portion of the fish before it kills another? But! You argue, We are logical, reasoning human beings that are above that. We are logical and reasoning, but we are also part of the baser nature of all animals. To deny that is to remove yourself from nature to where you become an observer and not a participant.


If you look at catch and release fishing in a holistic view you can reason that what is right does the most good for the natural community in which the action takes place. The act of fishing is on the individual fish. Ethical angling can be approached using the principle of restitution. If the ethical angler is catch and release fishing, he should return the fish to its habitat in the same condition as prior to the catch. Since stress and some physical damage have occurred, this is impossible. The angler then owes the fish some restitution for the impact the angler has had on the fish. While the act of fishing is on the individual animal, restitution can be paid to benefit the population as a whole or the habitat thereby providing more benefit to the species and other associated species than would have been provided if angling had not occurred. Promoting and protecting the habitat and funding activities that benefit the species are morally defensible ethical restitutions. When humans stop impacting the environment to the detriment of natural communities, only then can one say that we have reached parity with nature and can cease fishing and funding the resource. The overall benefit to the fish community is greater than the cost to the individual fish. As Spock would say the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. The billions of dollars that recreational fishing generates in the economy do more to protect the ecosystems fish live in than does any other activity. Fishing, including catch and release, is providing a greater benefit.


My last comment would be on the ethical standards themselves. How were the ethical standards set? Where did they come from? (Those are rhetorical questions) Obviously they are a derivation of human thought and therefore are based on human perspective. You live only in a human world and can only comprehend from that perspective. Your reasoning against catch and release is then purely based on how you think you would feel if you were the fish. It is all a matter of personal limits. It is OK if you catch a fish if you are going to eat it, but not if you let it live. The angler gets a certain level of anticipation and joy from the catch in either case but the C&R angler has the additional joy and anticipation that the fish will live and that he may have the challenge to catch the same fish at a later date. How can you reason from the fishs perspective? I know of individual fish that have been caught and released 3 or 4 times in a single day. Apparently the event was not that extraordinarily stressful.


Can you apply human ethics to an environmental question? Can you equate how you would treat a fish with how you would treat another human? If it is wrong to catch a fish for entertainment, then is it also wrong to build an art gallery that removes a whole biome? The gallery is merely for entertainment. Would you also be willing to give up the timber used to build your home because it came from a tree farm or even worse was taken from an old-growth forest? After all, your house is not a life requirement. You could live much simpler. Your house and many other things are merely things to make your life easier at the expense of other creatures. The increased erosion caused by timbering can slowly suffocate entire fish populations in streams. Is that ethical? You have a choice but the plants and animals do not. Is it worse to harm an individual of a species or a biota? We all have an impact. You have chosen not to participate in fishing fine, it is your choice. I have chosen a different level based on my own ethical beliefs.


When a trout chooses to prey upon what he thinks is weaker than himself, the angler ought not be blamed for it. George Washington Bethune (1847)




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I'll take PETA seriously when they go to Africa and protest the cheetahs, leopards and lions. Once they convince those animals it is wrong to kill other animals, I'll join their ranks. Why pick on me, and not them? They kill more animals in a week than I will in a lifetime!

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Sort of. You follow them when you can.

As Scouts, we try to follow the FrontCountry Guidelines, which are a scaled down version of LNT. As you will see when you read them, there is nothing in there which would prohibit fishing - whether catch and release or not. This link will take you to the BSA LNT Guidelines.


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I'm not sure how C&R would violate LNT. How many fish have you personally seen in a wild area with hook marks? Don't tell me about someone you knew who once talked to somebody who saw it. How many have you seen in any wild stream or lake? If you have seen no evidence of it then it is LNT. Leave No Trace means you have left no visible evidence that another person would know you had been there. You are more likely to run across a cat hole, tent depression, or trackway than to see any fish at all much less a hook marked one. Your LNT argument is baseless.


To further your point why don't you explain your personal experience with fish and fishing and how you came about your information. I get my information through personal experience and scientific literature. I have fished all my life. I have a Master's Degree in fish and wildlife biology and have been a practicing fisheries biologist for 20 years. I have practical field experience with both fished and unfished populations and with many different species. Please make sound arguments based on science and facts instead of emotions.


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Dang Fishsqueezer, I had written perhaps the best post ever, a real pulitzer prize winner. Then I hit Submit and got an error and lost it. Sometimes this software really has it in for me.


Any whooo.

" Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. " from LNT (Wildlife)


How does that not conflict with C & R fishing? If BSA adopted LNT as its outdoor ethics guide, doesn't that conflict with the fishing merit badge?


You asked about my fishing background. Been there, done that. Just didn't hook me. Never understood the allure to standing in a freezing cold stream, wearing rubber pants up to my armpits, trying to snag my $20 fly in the brush. I've always followed the old adage that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and he'll spend all day in a boat drinking beer.

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Im sure I would have loved your Pulitzer effort. Most PETA type writing is quite entertaining, especially since they arent bound by any norms of factual reporting or science.

Now for LNT. Since we are talking about scouts, lets look at the BSA Leave No Trace. Here is the BSA web address with LNT http://www.scouting.org/nav/enter.jsp?s=ba so everyone will know what it really says.

Quote Leave No Trace helps reinforce that mission, and reminds us to respect the rights of other users of the outdoors as well as future generations. Also "What can we do to reduce our impact on the environment and on the experiences of other visitors?"

So the LNT ethic is for respect of the rights of other users (read other people) of the outdoors. It is not a standard for fish and wildlife. It is not LNT so no fish or wildlife species ever knew you were there.

6. Respect Wildlife Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Considerate campers practice these safety methods:

 Observe wildlife from afar to avoid disturbing them.

 Give animals a wide berth, especially during breeding, nesting, and birthing seasons.

 Store food securely and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals so they will not acquire bad habits. Never feed wildlife. Help keep wildlife wild.

You are too close if an animal alters its normal activities.

If you are observing wildlife you should keep your distance. If you are seeking to catch wildlife you will need to get closer. Since a fishs normal activity is feeding and the angler has enticed the fish to feed, then the angler is not too close.

The scouting site also refers people to the LNT website (www.lnt.org) if they want more information. I suppose this is where you got your quote of do not touch. That quote about respecting wildlife is cut a bit short. This is still an excerpt, but it does include enough information to transmit its purpose. It is actually worded:

Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. It is stressful to the animal, and it is possible that the animal may harbor rabies or other diseases. Sick or wounded animals can bite, peck or scratch and send you to the hospital. Young animals removed or touched by well-meaning people may cause the animals parents to abandon them. If you find sick animals or animal in trouble, notify a game warden.

So, if we look at it in context, what animals have rabies or may bite, peck or scratch fish? Im not aware of that species. How about parents abandoning young ones because someone picked them up that doesnt sound like fish either. Dont crop those quotes too tightly. I know it makes for faster reading and better sound bites, but it does leave important information out. I guess you were so quick to get here that you completely bypassed the overview page. If you look at the page http://www.lnt.org/programs/index.html, what do you suppose one finds there under Purpose?

Leave No Trace is an national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations.

Notice that both hunting and fishing are included. Why do you suppose that is? Maybe because they are legitimate activities under LNT? Please show me how C&R leaves more of a trace than just angling.

So you dont like fishing because you found it difficult and uncomfortable. That seems to be the same reason I dont golf. It still does not provide any source of information upon which you base your opinion. I hope your Pulitzer juices start flowing again. I can hardly wait.

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I didn't find fishing difficult or uncomfortable, I found it boring and not worthy of my precious leasure time.


LNT doesn't just cover the visual impacts we have on the environment. For instance, you might just come across a nest of sparrows whilst venturing into the wilds. You might be inclined to pick them up and inspect them. Play with them and place them back in their nest as you found them. Visually, you left no trace. But come back the next day and your impact would be fully appreciated.


Besides the possible benefits of license fees for stream remediation, what benefit does catch and release VS. no fishing at all have on the environment?

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