Fish Welfare

Image courtesy of Tony Foster on Flickr

Project Info:

This research assisted the NZSFC in their preparation for a submission on the animal welfare act review. The trustees were pleased to see the professional submission made and showed the NZSFC to be a contact of value for any future work or consultation on fish welfare by the government. A nationwide survey on current fishing practice and attitudes to animal welfare when hunting or fishing was undertaken by Horizon Research. This information will help inform the NZSFC submission on the review of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

2581 responses where received to the questionnaire using the Horizon Research online survey panel in June 2012. At a 95% confidence level the maximum margin of error is ±1.7% overall.

There is general acknowledgement of the importance of ensuring the welfare/wellbeing and protection of wild animals that are hunted and fish that are caught in the sea in New Zealand. A small majority feel that the welfare/wellbeing and protection of animals in New Zealand is better than in other parts of the world.

Overall, 62% want to know more about animal welfare/wellbeing and protection in New Zealand. “Expert” hunters and fishers are even more likely than the general population to want to know more.

Over half say their fishing and fish handling methods are influenced by possible stress or pain to the fish, and 68% would accept a slightly lower catch rate to reduce damage fish that get off the hook or are released.

There is a clear opportunity to provide fishers with more information about good catching and handling practice, and they are generally keen to know more. 80% of fishers say they would read a Best Practice Guide for recreational fishing if it is produced. Regardless of how often they fish, 78% are receptive to changing their behaviour in line with a guide.

In The submission NZSFC agreed that animal welfare matters. In our view it is important to rely more on science based assessment, rather than emotive or animal rights based assessment of the welfare of animals when developing strategy and legislative proposals. We support the objectives of the review, to have clear and enforceable standards for welfare but to regulate only where necessary.

NZSFC supported the Government’s view that hunting and fishing are important and legitimate activities in New Zealand. For many of our members, fishing is their pastime of choice, providing food for the table and the soul, and occasionally a large or special capture. Here, in the South Pacific we must embrace the principles of kaitiakitanga and manakitanga. Guardianship and proper use of food from the land and sea are values which underpin all parts of New Zealand society.

NZSFC supported the continuation of the provision which exempts killing fish from the full provisions of the Act. There are instances where common commercial or amateur fishing practice may catch fish of size or number which makes quick dispatch impossible. Many fish that are caught are not killed but are released, or tagged and released. We remain committed to supporting and promoting high welfare outcomes for fish caught by amateur fishers using best practice guides and fishing club networks.

Completed research projects