Paul McCartney is wearing a shirt in public that has "Eat No Fish" on it. He also tells a story about when he used to fish, using a rod and reel, and how he realized that he was killing the fish for "the passing pleasure it brings me. And, something inside me clicked. I realized, as I watched him fight for breath, that his life was as important to him as mine is to me."
I can relate. I stopped fishing around when I was 10 or 11 years old due primarily two events. One was when I was fishing with a cousin and his friend. My cousinʻs friend, after catching a fish, cut off the fishʻs fins and put the fish back into the water, for some unknown reasons. I was very upset by this display of cruelty, and really didnʻt understand why he would do that [I wonder now if that friend is cruel in other ways still]. Some time later, maybe a year or so later, I was fishing with my father and I saw a guy across the bank of the river. It appeared that he was catching fish, and if he was upset by the fish he caught [maybe they were too small or not the right kind, I donʻt really know], then he stomped on them to kill them. Again, I was very upset by this display of cruelty and from that time on, I no longer fished. I still ate fish until I became vegetarian in 1981.
I feel sad and, sometimes even horrified, when I see fish hauled in from nets on large fishing boats or struggling to get free from a hook. Could you imagine someone reaching into your home and hooking you in the mouth with a sharp [or sometimes dull] hook? Yikes! I see the fish gasping for breath on the boats and I feel so sad for those creatures, who are left to slowly die. Too much cruelty and suffering.
There are other reasons to stop eating fish, or even to stop fishing. Fish, according to research studies, have great long-term memories, live in complex social groups, learn from other fish and develop traditions. They can also recognize themselves and others, cooperate with one another, and use tools. Fish ʻtalkʻ to each other, even talking to other species. They may shake, point with their snouts or noses, use elaborate mating rituals, and even decorate the sea floor with shell fragments.
Thus, it could be time for others to consider removing fish from their diets, as well as discontinuing the practice of fishing. And, not only may it be a moral decision, the additional fact that the number of edible fish in the oceans is decreasing rapidly is another important consideration.
What about you - do you think it is morally or ethically wrong to eat fish, or to engage in the practice of fishing?
Culum Brown 2014 "Fish intelligence, sentience and ethics. Animal Cognition.