Today Logan and I are teaming up again to bring you guys an important post about the dangers of catch and release fishing.
Earlier this week I found myself in some Twitter drama after calling out a popular fitness figure for posting a video of himself catching a shark with a fishing line to take a photo with it, then release it back into the ocean with the hook in its mouth.
His incredibly large following quickly filled my mentions with accusations of being a “crazy vegan” and sharks being “dangerous killers”. Despite the unintelligent harassment I was receiving, I stood by my decision to call this guy out on what was abuse of an innocent animal and quite frankly, bullshit.
I’m not going to link the video here, because the whole purpose of this guy’s moronic actions was for views and I do not want to support that at all. Essentially the video showed him and his friends bait a shark and attempt to grab it for a photo. During which time the shark was forced upside down and in various stages of tonic immobility, meaning it was unable to swim and thus unable to breathe. When they finally did let the shark go, it was struggling so they couldn’t properly get the hook out of its mouth and the shark swam off with the hook still lodged in its jaw.
Many of the comments in defense of this video were that he didn’t actually kill or “harm” the shark and the animal was released back into the ocean. While it’s true that the animal wasn’t killed, to say it wasn’t harmed is ignorant. Logan and I are going to debunk these comments and explain exactly why catch and release fishing is still incredibly harmful to marine animals – including sharks.
While media sources often portray catch and release fishing as a great way to experience nature, it’s a very unsafe practice for the animal being targeted and can have serious long term consequences.
Some of the major consequences of catch and release fishing include:
- Completely exhausting the animal.
The animal you’re catching doesn’t know if you’re going to release it or not, or what you plan to do to it, so it will literally be fighting for its life. This will leave the animal disorientated, tired, and vulnerable to predators once its released back into the ocean.
- Mental distress and lifelong fear of fishing boats.
There is compelling evidence that cetaceans are self-aware. Studies show that dolphins can recognize their image in a mirror and use that image to investigate their body. As well, the linguistic skills of cetacean’s hint at intelligence far more developed. This means cetaceans are aware of everything that’s happening when they’re being caught and tortured and after being released, the memory of the traumatic event stays with them.
- Tonic Immobility
Sharks in particular will enter into a state of tonic immobility when turned upside down. This essentially paralyzes them and in order to breathe, sharks need to swim. Putting them in a state of tonic immobility to get control of it for a photo is essentially suffocating the animal.
- Eliminates an animals food source
The reason you were able to catch the animal is because you lured it with bait, creating a false food source. After you’ve had your fun you’ll be releasing an animal into the wild that’s not only exhausted, but now hungry as well.
- Hooks cause physical damage to the animals mouth
We’ve saved the most obvious one for last; the metal hooks you use to actually catch the animal cause incredible damage to the flesh and bone of the jaw. There is no way for cetaceans to remove these hooks from their mouths, the only hope is that they will eventually rust out which doesn’t always happen. Depending on how the hook is caught in the mouth it can cause incredible discomfort for the animal and even interrupt its feeding.
It’s also important to note the difference between catch and release fishing for fun or tourism, and the catch and release fishing done for research or by conservationists. People collecting data on sharks are properly trained on how to catch the animals with little to no harm and how to safely and completely remove any hooks from their bodies. Their first priority once the animal is captured is to make sure it is having aerated water pumped over its gills. This ensures the shark is still breathing and is not gasping for air while measurements and samples are taken. Following their procedure, they place the shark back into the water, but hold onto is as long as they can until it is able to orient itself and swim properly once again. These people are professionals who are adequately trained and studying these animals for research and conservation purposes. They are doing their part to learn about them and ensure their global well-being, and that is why such care is taken when handling them.
We hope this article has helped you understand a little bit more about marine animals and the dangerous of catch and release fishing! Be sure when travelling or around oceans you’re steering clear of tour companies offering catch and release tours. Speak out against these horrible practices and stand up for these voiceless creatures.