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A PETA campaign in the US against fishing included this billboard.
Animal liberationists are set to a launch similar campaign here.

Push to end 'cruel' fishing
By MATTHEW SCHULZ
26 feb 06

ANIMAL liberationists have focused on Victoria's 600,000 anglers in a new campaign against sports they claim are cruel.

Victorian fishermen say the campaign is ridiculous.

Animal Liberation spokesman Mark Pearson said recreational fishing was a "barbaric sport" and the group had planned first strikes against game fishing.

Other action in its bid to wipe out angling would follow if authorities did not act, he said.

While Mr Pearson would not reveal the group's strategy to wipe out one of Australia's favourite pastimes, US activists have paraded in the streets with stuffed dogs hanging from fishing poles and erected billboards on the same theme.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokeswoman Karin Robertson said: "If you wouldn't hook the family dog and drag her behind your car, you shouldn't impale a fish and drag her into your boat.

"Fish are smart, have complex lives and deserve to live free from suffering."

Animal Liberation has hired barristers and bought boats to prove marlin and shark hunters are breaking animal cruelty laws.

Mr Pearson said fishing tournaments were "nothing but a glorified abuse of these animals".

"If these wild animals could scream, maybe someone would listen," he said.

"If this torture was being inflicted on dolphins, there would be public outrage."

Mr Pearson vowed the attack on game fishing was the first step.

"Once we've opened the door to this debate, it raises further questions, such as the fellow down on the wharf who chucks the fish back without eating it," he said.

But the state peak recreational fishing body, VRFish, said the animal liberationists' campaign was "absolutely ridiculous".

"It's probably one of the last areas where people can get their own feed from the wild," executive director David Kramer said.

Anglers were educated about handling fish with care, he said.

"A group of animal libbers aren't going to stop us. It's like saying we should stop killing cows for beef."

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