The publication of a highly controversial and dubious report on Fish Welfare by the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation – a group supported by the Prime Minister’s partner Carrie Symonds – has been branded an ‘ill informed anti-angling rant lacking in evidence or credibility’ and a ‘gift to animal rights extremists’ by the Angling Trust.
In a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary George Eustice, Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook asks that the government distances itself from the report and reconfirms its support for angling.
Jamie Cook writes:
“If this was just the musings of some independent think tank we could let it pass with minimal comment as a biased and flawed piece of ideologically driven nonsense. But because it’s from the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation who enjoy close links to people at the heart of power in this country we feel obliged to ask you or your ministers to publicly confirm your support for recreational fishing and to distance the Government from the conclusions of this highly contentious and inaccurate report.”
Without any reference to established facts or science the report makes some extraordinary claims about angling including:
• Catch and Release survival rates of 1-2%
• Anglers store live fish in buckets causing them stress
• Anglers knowingly gut and fillet live fish for the table
• Fish feel pain
• Fish are ‘sentient beings’ and should be included in animal welfare legislation
The full report can be found here – the misleading claims on Catch and Release are on page 24. It will surprise almost no anglers that above the headline Fish Welfare in the UK, is a picture of the head of a tarpon.
Previously the Conservative Party had been steadfast in its support for angling saying at the 2017 election:
“The Conservative Party will continue to support angling and the numerous benefits – economic, environmental, social and health – it brings to communities and individuals alike.”
Angling Trust Policy Chief Martin Salter added:
“We’ve worked hard to maintain strong cross party support for angling and have had great support from many Conservative MPs who are just as bemused as we are by the emergence of an ill informed anti-angling rant lacking in evidence or credibility.
“We’ve now provided ministers with peer reviewed scientific papers proving that catch and release survival rates are well above 90% and even higher in well conducted coarse fishing. Let’s hope this report is quickly disowned and we can go back to working with ministers on promoting all the benefits that angling has to offer.”