SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Recreational Fishing

Animals in Entertainment, Sport, and Work

SPCA advocates that recreational fishers adopt fishing practices that minimise the welfare harms to fish.

SPCA recognises the scientific evidence that has demonstrated the sentience of fish and some species of aquatic invertebrates (e.g. octopus, squid, cuttlefish, lobsters, crayfish and crabs amongst others). As these animals are capable of experiencing pain and distress, humans have a duty of care to ensure fish and aquatic invertebrates are treated humanely. Aquatic practices which have the potential to cause pain, injury, or distress must be avoided. Fish welfare can be negatively affected by sudden changes in temperature, noise, vibration, oxygen concentration, light intensity and damages to their protective mucous layer.

SPCA advocates for the compulsory regulation of recreational fishing and a code of welfare for fish, with compliance a condition of recreational fishing licences.

SPCA supports that development of a code of welfare for fish with minimum standards and guidelines based on evidence for the capacity of fish to experience pain and distress.

SPCA opposes big game fishing for sport due to the prolonged pain, injury and distress on the fish involved. In particular, our organisation is against the “playing” and “tagging and release” of big game fish.

SPCA advocates for a ban on the use of “light tackle” to catch big game fish.

The use of light tackle to land a fish who weighs many times the breaking strain of the tackle prolongs the pain and distress suffered by the fish. Tackle should be sufficiently robust to ensure the landing of the fish efficiently and quickly, and the fish must immediately be humanely killed. Our organisation considers that the use of any line or tackle with a breaking strain of less than 56kg, when targeting fish of more than 100kg in weight, is unacceptable.

SPCA advocates that all recreational fishers, including spearfishers, must use the most humane method possible for killing fish they have caught.

Fish or other animals caught for food, or other consumptive purposes, must be humanely handled and killed as soon as possible after capture. At present, this is the “ikijime method” as it results in the lowest levels of stress to the fish. Ikijime (also known as ikejime or brain spiking), is a Japanese term denoting "live killing". Ikijime has been scientifically demonstrated to be the fastest and most humane way to kill fish known at present. SPCA supports mandatory fishing licences and recommends that training in this technique should be a requirement of gaining the licence.

SPCA opposes the use of live bait in game or other types of fishing.

SPCA opposes the practice of using live animals as a lure for fish because of the pain and distress it causes to the animal used as bait.

SPCA opposes the use of lead products in recreational fishing because of the negative impacts it causes to animals and the environment from contamination.

SPCA supports the use of lead-free fishing tackle as an alternative to products containing lead. SPCA would like for all people who fish to act responsibly in relation to their impact on the environment and the animals which live there.

Hello! Choose your nearest SPCA Centre and see content specific to your location:
Hit enter to submit