“Pole-and-line” fishing usually means a particular type of rod and line fishing in which fish are attracted to the surface with bait fish, in a process called “chumming”. After locating a school of fish, the fishers create a feeding frenzy by scattering bait fish such as anchovies and sardine, usually alive, over the side of the vessel. In this feeding frenzy, the fish snap at barbless hooks dangled in the water from the fishers’ rod and lines. When a fish becomes hooked, the fisher swings the rod bringing the fish flying onto the deck behind and disengaging it from the hook.
Chumming usually involves live bait fish. Occasionally minced bait, prepared from frozen sardines or similar fish in a hand mincer, is used in place of live bait. Normally bare hooks or jigs (artificial lures) are used on the lines, but hooks may be baited with live fish. The use of live bait fish in this way, and in chumming, hugely adds to the suffering caused in this fishing method.
The fish are landed quickly. Sometimes fish are gaffed (i.e. impaled on a hook) to bring them abroad and this is likely to cause considerable pain.
While hooking is stressful to fish, from the point of view of the target fish (as opposed to the bait fish) this may be one of the relatively more humane methods of catching fish on account of the short duration of capture.
Conservation groups consider pole-and-line fishing to have low levels of bycatch relative to other major fishing methods. Survival chances of released bycatch fish are considered to be high due to the use of barbless hooks and the quick release from them.
Measures to reduce suffering in pole-and-line fishing
The following measures, combined with humane slaughter immediately the fish is landed, would improve the welfare of fish caught in pole-and-line fishing:
|Reducing the suffering in pole-and-line fishing:
Reduce suffering of bait fish
Reduce stress and injury during landing