By Bill Degnan
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association - May 1996 Newspaper)
Well fellow anglers it seems we have another fight on our hands. No it doesnt have to do with regulations or new limits on different species. We have a new enemy to sportfishing and even commercial fishing. It is called PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. If you have read the outdoor writers columns over the past few months then you have probably read about this organization. They are now going after sport fishermen and commercial fishermen. You will probably see them protesting at various fishing tournaments this year as a way to stop you from fishing and harming fish, even if you catch & release.
PETA recently produced a fact sheet on fishing. The fact sheet refers to fishing with a rod & reel, bows & arrows, nets, spears and guns.This blood sport survives partly because of the misconception that fish dont feel pain. Pain is well developed in fish as in mammals. Moreover fish have been known to go out of their way, and even risk their own lives to aid other fish in trouble. This is a quote from PETAs fact sheet.
They are out there and according to news reports they are over 400,000 members strong. Their plan for this year is to disrupt any fishing activity including tournaments. According to a fax received from Michael Donovan of the RFA, Title 23 of the N.J. Fish and Game Laws which is " An act concerning the taking of wildlife" This is the law which the N.J. State Federation of Sportsmens Clubs Inc. and the JCAA instituted to protect hunters and all those engaged in outdoor sports, from harassment by protesters (JCAA's Tom Fote was also acting as Legislative Chairman for the Federation at that time). Fortunately, this law also protects all anglers in N.J. waters ( out to 3 miles) from the type of harassment which PETA has promised. Unfortunately, there is still a threat of harassment in Federal waters.
So fellow anglers be aware that this could happen when ever you go fishing. Also keep in mind you are protected by law when you are lawfully engaged in fishing from this type of harassment. So dont take matters into your own hands, call for law enforcement personnel to handle the situation under Title 23:7A-2 Hindering or preventing the lawful taking of wildlife prohibited. This law took effect on January 15, 1993.