How to Report Illegal Fishing and Abuse to Keep Fish Safe!
Sport fishing is incredibly cruel and inflicts intense suffering on animals. Fish are stabbed in the face with sharp hooks and then yanked out of the water which causes them to suffocate and experience trauma similar to that of a drowning human. The animals sustain severe injuries which often kill them following release.
Unfortunately, these “standard fishing practices” are exempt from compliance with most states’ animal abuse legislation, regardless of how inhumane they are. However, there are still some laws in place to reduce the suffering that fish experience at the hands of humans.
For instance, fishing is prohibited in many locations. It is often forbidden in retention ponds and reservoirs, while public parks may have dedicated sections that are closed to fishing. Sometimes, fishing is only prohibited during parts of the year or only applies to specific species. There may also be restrictions on what equipment can be used to capture fish, including barbed hooks, which are designed with a jagged edge that intensifies the pain inflicted on unsuspecting fish. Specific methods of fishing (e.g. drop line fishing) are also illegal in some locales.
If you witness violations of such rules, please immediately contact the proper authorities, which will vary based on where the abuse occurs. If the violation occurs in a public park, the point of contact will likely be the park’s rangers. If the violation occurs on state land, please report the incident to state wildlife management agencies which usually have a hotline for this purpose. Offenses occurring in national wildlife refuges or other federal lands can be reported anonymously to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Office of Law Enforcement.
Although standard fishing practices are not included in most animal cruelty laws, harmful acts by fishermen can sometimes be prosecuted if they’re not tied to these “acceptable” practices. For instance, a fisherman from Florida was recently charged with animal cruelty for dragging a shark behind a boat. Such cruelty should be reported to local police immediately.
Fish are one of the most mistreated animal groups, but we have the power to change this by raising our voices whenever we see them being abused. By consistently coming to their defense, we can remind lawmakers, law enforcement, and communities that fish have the capacity to suffer pain and distress. Meaningful enforcement of the few existing legal protections for fish is a small yet essential step toward creating a more compassionate world.