The Countryside Alliance has renewed criticism of the RSPCA’s priorities following reports that they intend to investigate anglers and fish farmers for ‘cruelty’ to fish.

The RSPCA and SSPCA have suggested that controversial research published last year by the Roslin Institute showed that fish can feel pain and the SSPCA has said: “We believe that fish do have the capacity to suffer and the thinking of government, the fishing industry and sports fishermen should take this into account”.

Charles Jardine, Director of the Alliance’s Campaign for Angling, said: “There remain huge questions about the conclusions drawn from last year’s study, yet groups like the RSPCA seem to be determined to accept that fish feel pain despite inconclusive and conflicting research.

“The real question is why an organisation which is closing regional centres and laying off staff in response to financial constraints should choose to allocate scarce resources on such a misguided campaign. Britain’s 3.5 million anglers know that their sport is entirely legitimate and that it has massive benefits for river and still water habitats. Anglers certainly do far more for fish than the RSPCA ever has”.