Practical Issues > Fishing/Hunting > Fishing - Index

Anglers Bite the Bloodsports Line

Anglers finally admitted that their 'sport' is a bloodsport when they announced a pact between three main angling groups and the hunting and shooting fraternity. The Salmon and Trout Association, the National Federation of Anglers and the National Federation of Sea Anglers formally agreed to support and work closely with the British Field Sports Society (BFSS) and the recently formed Countryside Business Group. The announcement was made at the first National Angling Conference in October '95.

The president of the National Federation of Anglers Ken Ball, has also become a director of another new pro-bloodsports organisation, the Countryside Movement. This group pretends to campaign to support rural life and issues, but the majority of its funding is from bloodsports enthusiasts who are trying to mislead the public into supporting the slaughter of wildlife for fun.

Anglers have long denied that fish feel pain and that fishing is a bloodsport, but with this announcement they have shown their true colours. The opposition from animal rights campaigners has forced them to align themselves with people who get enjoyment from terrorising foxes by digging them out or watching a hare being ripped apart between the jaws of two greyhounds.

This move has caused great controversy within the angling fraternity. Many anglers are outraged by this official link with other bloodsports, which some see as cruel, while others are concerned because it will prompt the public to link angling with these other bloodsports. Already the angling bodies have realised their big mistake. Since the conference, the National Federation of Anglers (NFA) have made two announcements trying to distance themselves from other bloodsports. However the wave of adverse publicity has helped the anti-angling cause tremendously and Pisces will continue to keep up the pressure.

Pro-Bloodsports Group Commissions Fish and Pain Report

Pisces has obtained a copy of the confidential draft of a report commissioned by the British Field Sports Society (the main PR group for bloodsports) and three of the UK's main angling groups. The 'Fish Welfare Literature Review' by Dr Tom Pottinger looks at three areas of concern associated with angling: physiological stress, physical damage and pain.

Since this research was completed earlier in 1995, it has been stated by the BFSS and repeated by the media and the Labour Party, that it provides evidence that fish do not feel pain in the same way as humans. However, as the draft document states in section 5.6, this is not the case, "There is no information available in the literature at present which provides firm evidence that fish perceive pain as mammals apparently do or, conversely, that they cannot perceive pain as mammals do. On balance, it seems unlikely that fish experience pain as understood by humans. However, the problem of assessing exactly what a fish perceives when exposed to stimuli considered to be noxious or unpleasant in human terms, may prove to be intractable."

So even this report commissioned to show that angling is not cruel, can't say for sure. This contrasts with the growing number of leading scientists who have spoken out forcefully on the pain and stress caused to fish by angling, e.g. Prof Donald Broom of Cambridge University, Prof John Webster of Bristol University, Steven Kestin, also of Bristol University and Prof Verheijen of Utrecht University. For further details please contact Pisces (address below).

Labour Party Supports Angling

In the UK, the Labour Party have publicly shown support for anglers in their 'Charter for Anglers' (published in June 1995). Yet Labour are the political party who have a policy against hunting.

Labour's spokesperson for animal welfare Elliot Morley MP says, " is unlikely that fish feel pain in the same way that mammals would." He bases this on a study (see below) funded by the British Field Sports Society (the main PR group for bloodsports) and three of the main angling groups.

Labour obviously think that it is acceptable for fish to be subjected to pain by anglers, as long as that pain is not in the same way as humans.

Secondly Elliot Morley says "...we cannot oppose fishing as long as people eat fish since there is little practical difference between sports fishing and commercial fishing." Yet Labour comes out against deer hunting when people eat venison. Hunting and angling are alike in that they are both carried out for entertainment.


The real reason for Labour's pro-angling policy is the fear of losing votes from what they perceive as a strong angling lobby. Help us to show Labour that they have misjudged the strength of feeling against the cruel bloodsport of angling. Please write to Elliot Morley MP or your own Labour MP at the House of Commons, London, SE1 1AA.
Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,