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Attitudes towards catch-and-release recreational angling, angling practices and perceptions of pain and welfare in fish in New Zealand

By R. Muir, A. J. Keown, N. J. Adams, M. J. Farnworth

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Although there is still some debate regarding whether fish have the capacity to feel pain, recent scientific research seems to support the notion that fish can indeed suffer. However, the continued scientific discourse has led to questions regarding how members of the public perceive issues of pain and welfare in fish. A questionnaire was developed and randomly distributed to 700 members of the general public in New Zealand. Questionnaires gathered basic demographic information, information regarding respondents’ participation in and opinions on angling practice, and opinions about fish welfare and pain. The response rate was 62.4% (437/700). The primary aim of the study was to assess public concerns for the impact of catch-and-release angling (CRA) on the welfare of fish. Most respondents indicated a belief that fish are capable of feeling some pain although older respondents scored the capacity of fish to feel pain lower than younger respondents. Likewise, most respondents believed that CRA causes pain and compromises survival in fish. Principle Component Analysis identified two major components within responses. These were: i) importance placed on good fishing techniques; and ii) concern for pain and survival of fish. Female respondents showed more concern about angling practices and their impact on pain and survival of fish than male respondents. Respondents who participate in CRA and considered it acceptable showed less concern for pain and survival in fish than both respondents who do not participate and those who considered CRA unacceptable. The majority of respondents considered angling an acceptable pastime (65%; 284/435) but also indicated support for the introduction of guidelines and regulations to improve fish welfare in the future (76.4%; 334/434). Those respondents that did not believe regulations were necessary provided statistically lower importance scores for both pain and survival in fish and good angling practices than respondents that did. Education about good angling practices may provide the best route by which fish welfare can be improved.

Date 2013
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 22
Issue 3
Pages 323-329
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Publisher Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
Location of Publication Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
DOI 10.7120/09627286.22.3.323
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare and Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Natural Sciences, Unitec Institute of Technology, Private Bag 92025, Auckland, New
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Angling
  2. Animal consciousness
  3. Animal health and hygiene
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. APEC countries
  7. Attitudes
  8. Australasia
  9. Commonwealth of Nations
  10. Demography
  11. Developed countries
  12. Education
  13. Fish
  14. Guidelines
  15. Humans
  16. Laws and regulations
  17. Mammals
  18. Men
  19. New Zealand
  20. Oceania
  21. OECD countries
  22. Pain
  23. Primates
  24. Public opinion
  25. Questionnaires
  26. regulations
  27. Research
  28. Social psychology and social anthropology
  29. survival
  30. Techniques
  31. vertebrates