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May 08, 2008

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Swiss to Ban Catch-and-Release

No I'm not making this up. See for yourself: according to this press release from the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association, the Swiss government is going to ban the practice of catch-and-release fishing. Concurrently, regulations will outlaw the use of barbed hooks and bait. Huh?

Wait, I'm not done, this gets even nuttier. The law will outlaw fishing "with the intent to release fish." Anglers must undergo mandatory training on the "humane" treatment of caught fish, and learn how to kill fish via a sharp blow to the head with a blunt object. Huh?

Does that include juvenile/undersized fish? Oh wait, there won't be any left in Swiss waters to worry about. I wonder how the PETA folks will spin this.

Have you ever heard of such an absurd notion? Switzerland should stick to watches, chocolate, and guarding the Pope. I find it sadly ironic that the first war the Swiss government would declare in many years would be on fish.



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Sue B

A lot of the hardcore anglers where I live in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys have named the individual fish because they have caught and re-caught them so many times. The waters here see as much pressure as anywhere, yet the fisheries remain healthy, Gold-Medal waters. Catch and release is a big part of what allows the fish to go on to spawn and reproduce. Do these Swiss guys who made this ridiculous law even fish?

David Boones

I've always wanted a reason to carry a 2x4 in my fishing vest.


It seems like an idea fostered by anti-fishing groups in hopes that fewer people will fish and fish less often if they have to kill everything. There can't be too many other explanations, as there's no way any sensible angler would advocate all-kill, or anyone would unless they wanted to kill the sport.


it's actually not such an absurd notion if you really think about it. catch and release was invented to help preserve a resource for and by primarily sport anglers, especially since we live in a greedy capitalist society that has no self-limiting conscience, so releasing fish is the next best thing to the other alternative, not fishing at all.

trout/fish have really become almost a commodity in our profession/industry, so it's understandable why the notion of catch and kill might not make sense in that context. but really, harrassing a fish and releasing it is actually what is absurd. like digging up a tree and replanting it.

my buddhist aunt is always asking me why do i catch fish and release them, and to be honest, i don't have a good answer. i can say that i want to look at them up close, appreciate them, etc. and i can pretend that i'm helping by not killing fish, but the truth is that we are all selfishly involved in an activity that is borderline immoral or unethical no matter how you look at it, that's the truth. we as human beings are exploiting that resource for personal pleasure when really should only be fishing for food.


Who are you to say why or why not we should be fishing? What if I say we should be fishing for sport only, and not eating fish? Like riding horses, or hunting with dogs ... we don't them, well, most of us don't. The fact is that without the "harassment" (a.k.a. sportfishing) and the 2 billion dollars a year that's poured directly into the conservation of the waters that fish live in (in this country alone), there would be no fish to catch, or eat, or harass, or simply admire.

You're right, Joey, I do put stuff up here to provoke and instigate ... I pick on bass, occasionally Texas, and Romano from time to time.

But this is one where there should be consensus. This Swiss decision is astronomically stupid, myopic, and there is no up-side for angling, nor for the fish themselves.



i'm not saying why we should or should not fish. i'm going to continue fishing and do it as responsibly as i can. but let's not kid ourselves and see it for what it really is. we are harrassing those animals. i'm not saying it's right or wrong, but just be honest with yourself about it. we are not doing fish any favors by hooking them, fighting them, exposing them to potential harm (yes, some fish still die despite all the care we take in not harming them). there's a big difference between caring for a dog or horse, feeding them, giving them a home...and yanking a fish out of the water to satisfy some latent primordial urge.

because we are sportfishermen, we see things from our almost elitist perspective compared to people who fish out of necessity. before sportfishing ever existed as a past time, we as animals on this planet (as pretty much every other animal does) only hunted and fished (harvested) what we needed for food and nothing more. it's why occasionally i will kill a fish to eat just to morally justify what i'm doing.

we as humans on this planet are at the top of the food chain, so we have the luxury to be able to do whatever we want. we also have a responsibility not to waste resources with blatant disregard, which as americans we are grossly culpable compared to other cultures. just look at the amount of trash and pollution we generate each day, using plastic cups, driving 12 mph vehicles all over the place for no reason, just because we can, etc...and we wiped out old growth forests, buffaloes and cutthroat trout out of pure greed.

but let's not bring out the residual benefits of sportfishing for conservation argument for this situation. while it's true that rivers and fish populations have benefited from conservation efforts due to sportfishermen, i think it's an over-used convenient justification for what it really is: ripping lips. first of all, look at the context of the situation as it is in the u.s. we only have to pour billions of dollars in to preserve our rivers because we f*cked them up in the first place by our wanton greed. this is where catch and release came from.

the only reason we want to conserve anything nowadays is just so we can continue to have those resources to exploit. most people pretend to embrace the conservation, but i find it to be particularly dishonest and selfish to claim that, myself included.

i don't know what their fishing culture is like over there in switzerland, but for you or i to judge what is stupid or not for them would simply be arrogant and self centered because we are looking at it from our perspective, pretending that we know what's best. again, it's context. i just think there's another point of view that says fishing should only be done for gathering of food (as my buddhist aunt and many others think), and i don't necessarily disagree with that. and this comes from someone that works in the sportfishing industry.


Your points are eloquently made, and I see where you are coming from ...

But, I absolutely, positively, lose no sleep whatsoever about my involvement with fishing on any level. I think the world is a better place with anglers in it. And I think, also, that fishing is probably the most far-from elitist sport in the world. Lastly, I fail to see the logic that humane treatment equates to killing fish.


haha, i meant 12 mpg vehicles, not 12 mph!!


i don't lose sleep, but i think about it sometimes and wonder if what i'm doing is the right thing. i'm not ready to quit fishing any time soon, but i think it's important to question our customs, upbringing and how we arrived to our beliefs and personal ethics.

we've been so brainwashed on this conservation/catch and release thing for the initial intended purpose of not depleting our resources, that now we can't even see what it's become. fly fishing, especially for trout, has turned into a sport like golf. expensive gear, private access/fees, artificial management of rivers. maybe elitist wasn't the best word, perhaps esoteric.

i guess my point is that to a lot of common people, fishing is for food, not for fun. and the swiss rules seem to advocate swift killing of the fish to reduce their experience of pain or whatever based on this idea. seems that you think it's ridiculous because you don't agree with the core premise of their position, which is catch and release fishing is harrassment. and possibly because you are against killing of any fish for any reason, as in our cases in the u.s. we've grown accustomed to accept as protocol.

just look at the other post above where Sue talks about fish being caught and released so many times. you can spout all the conservation statistics til you're blue in the face, it's just pure abuse. there's nothing 'humane' about subjecting fish to that over and over again.


Switzerland has a pretty cool system for giving its people a voice. Maybe this bill was sponsored by owners of inns, hotels, restaurants and lots of hungry citizens near productive streams and lakes ...
time to invest?


Nice one Deeter! But maybe you could add laderhosen, cuckoo clocks and yodelling to the list.... But fisheries management?? obviously its not just the cheese that's full of holes.

Evan V

Say goodbye to tourists going to Sweden for fishing now!

And by the way, is the new F&S out yet? Last I got was the April one, and I'm afraid my subscription ran out.

Blue Ox

I hope all these fish that are killed are gonna be eaten, or at least given to someone who will eat them.
Otherwise it's such a waste.


I feel 10X more guilty about the banana I leave uneaten and rotting on the counter than I do about the 50 fish I catch and release in a good weekend of fishing.


Guard the Pope. That's funny Deeter.


In general, Do the people of PETA feel bad when they eat living things? They are such hipacrits (sp). They should stop focusing on everyone else and pay attention to theirselves. Friggers.


Wow seems like a good time to create an internet store selling billy clubs...Who the @%#$ came up with this brilliant reg.

Evan V

So i guess we're gonna get alotta reports of "bad fishing days" up there. *wink wink*


it sounds like peta wants us to stop torturing the fish by leaving them in misery

suburban bushwacker

I guy i fish with told me that on a trip to fish Swiss waters he was told that he couldn't buy a permit yet as it was still 'swiss only' season - that's right they only let tourists fish for what's left after they've had the best of the season!


I dont think you or I know whats best for swiss waters, and just because it sounds funny to us catch-and-releasers doesnt mean its not whats best for the fishery.

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