Fishing for Trouble: The Ethics of Recreational Angling

  • Max Elder
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series book series (PMAES)


Fishing is a beloved pastime for many cultures reaching far back into history and spanning the globe. Many fish not out of necessity, but purely as a means of recreation. These people are called recreational anglers, and their ethical justifications for fishing have yet to be problematized, at least to the same extent that other forms of recreational hunting have been. This chapter explores the various types of recreational angling—namely, catch-and-release fishing and fishing to kill—in order to collapse any supposed moral distinction between the two. It also explores the psychology behind recreational angling, arguing that some of the most widely cited justifications for angling, by anglers themselves, is ultimately self-defeating. The reverence that many anglers have for nature, and its inhabitants, falls short of a justification for fish being hunted. This inconsistency is often over-looked and, once exposed, offers a novel argument against angling for fun. The chapter concludes with an exploration of alternate value frameworks through which one might assess the ethics of recreational angling in a consistent manner. Given the large scale at which angling occurs globally, and the neglect of the moral foundation upon which it stands, this chapter raises a question for both ethics and animals.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Elder
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxford Centre for Animal EthicsOxfordEngland

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