Members of a Murray River recreational fishing club took me fishing soon after the IPA published my controversial Backgrounder ‘Myth and the Murray: Measuring the Real State of the River Environment’. They wanted to pick my brains on various issues including the future of fishing along the Murray.
That afternoon I remember one of the group John, showing me the Murray Cod he had just caught. He had this fish, about the size of a 3 month old baby, cradled in his arms and he was bringing it up to his face to give it a kiss in the same way a mother might kiss her baby. I thought it was gross, but he clearly adored the fish he had just caught and killed.
According to today’s ABC Online,
The Federal Government says an animal welfare bill introduced by the Democrats could mean the death of recreational fishing in Australia.
Under the the National Animal Welfare Bill the ‘capture and killing of wild animals for the purpose of entertainment and sport’ would be outlawed, a concept federal Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald says will mean the end of outdoor sports like angling.
“It would mean a lot of people along the West Australian coast, a lot of families who love to go fishing together as a family, wouldn’t be able to do that any more,” he said.
However, Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett says the bill has nothing to do with fishing.
“The legislation seeks to outlaw things such as tail docking of dogs, cock fighting, it does not mention fishing in any way shape or form,” he said.
The bill is currently before a Senate Committee and a report is expected by the end of June, for more information click here.
Is fishing hunting? On Monday, ABC Online published a piece about hunting lions in Africa:
Regional governments and conservationists have agreed on initial steps that need to be taken to save the African lion, which has been pushed to the brink of extinction throughout much of its range.
The strategies were worked out at a workshop on lions in east and southern Africa, which wrapped up at the weekend.
“The reduction in the lion’s wild prey base, human-lion conflicts and habitat degradation are the major reasons for declining lion populations and need to be addressed,” the World Conservation Union (WCU), one of the workshop’s organisers, said.
Government officials, local community representatives, lion biologists and safari hunters attended the meeting.
“Regulated trophy hunting was not considered a threat, but rather viewed as a way to help alleviate human-lion conflict and generate economic benefits for poor people to build their support for lion conservation,” the statement said.
Trophy hunting of lions already takes place in several African states including South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
But expanding these lucrative operations to other states is bound to be opposed by animal welfare groups, which view hunting as cruel.
With its iconic status as “King of the Beasts,” the hunting of the lion is an emotive issue sure to stir controversy, even if it does generate revenue for poor rural communities from licensing fees and jobs created.
Other strategies agreed on at the meeting include: action to prevent the illegal trade in lions and lion products; developing management capacity; and creating economic incentives for poor rural folk to live close to lions.
The lion’s overall situation is dire in the face of swelling human populations on the world’s poorest continent.
“Over the past 20 years, lion numbers are suspected to have dropped dramatically from an estimated 76,000 to a population estimated to be between 23,000 and 39,000 today,” the WCU said.
“Across Africa, the lion has disappeared from over 80 percent of its former range.”
In West Africa, lions number fewer than 1,500.
Conflict between humans and lions is a huge problem with attacks on people on the rise in Tanzania and Mozambique.
For those still reading this long post. Here are a few ideas to ponder:
1. Animal welfare, animal rights (including animal liberation) and conservation are three independent issues, which are often in conflict. Boundaries need to be placed on each to better understand their role in different context?
2. Society can justify pursuing animal welfare on anthropogenic grounds (benefits to people). It does not require any commitment to biocentric philosophies. Science is and will continue to be the most effective tool in improving animal welfare, so actions aimed at constraining research with animals may have limited utility in advancing animal welfare?
3. The core business of animal welfare is the reduction of unnecessary pain and suffering in captive and wild animals within different contexts. It should be objective and scientifically-based. Different contexts will always involve different levels of pain and suffering. When assessing the right to exist of individual contexts, such as the live export trade, battery hens or hunting, animal welfare is but one of many variables that society needs to consider?