The moment I decided to devote my life to animals, and
especially fish, was when I ran over a float with my
canoe (or the fisherman just thought I did). I didn't
see his fishing rod, but he was very angry. I thought:
"you shouldn't be angry, I should. You are destroying
a living creature on purpose, while I (may have) destroyed
a thing accidentally".
I joined the Animal Protection Society then.
In their magazine Dier (Animal)
I particularly read a lot about factory
farming and other animal abuse. Since then
I have been devoted to animals in general
and fish in particular through the Dutch
Fish Protection Society (Vissenbescherming).
As a child I often thought: "why is there no mention
of animals during religious education"? There was
only one exception: the pastor who gave us religious
education in high school for a while. When you teach
children to be kind to people, why is there no mention
of animals? There's every reason to do so. We are surrounded
by animals all of our lives, even if we never have pets.
A lot of animal love is limited to pets. That's why
I would like to call it not just animal love, but animal
justice as well.
I remember my kindergarten teacher saying: don't destroy
bird's nests. Apparently this was something rather common
in those days. It's strange that there are people who
give fishing rods even to young children. "They
like it" is the response. So does that make everything
children or adults like all right? Is fishing good because
people like it? It's very harmful to the animals involved.
In fact it's even worse than when an adult fishes, because
children don't have the care and fine motor skills necessary
to take the hook out of the fish's mouth.
Why would birds be worthwhile while fishes are not?
Both are vertebrate animals, with feelings and consciousness
and therefore they can suffer from pain, fear and stress.
People are not very concerned with fish: you can't pet
them, they aren't cute, people don't like them immediately.
And they can't scream. Besides, many birds are duped
by lead pellets they think are stones, which they need
for their digestion, and by lost fishing lines because
they get ensnared in them. That's why it's good to point
out to children that they should treat animals well,
or rather NOT treat them, but leave them alone!
When children have pets, they should be taught to treat
them well. In some cases it would be better not to keep
pets. Many fish are put into small bowls and even birds
and other animals (hamsters, rabbits, etc.) are kept
in small cages or pens. We have to teach children to
think ahead: do I want to take good care of the animal
or will I sell the animal short by not offering it enough
space to live? Or by lack of interaction with members of its species? Are dogs for instance walked often enough
and long enough? It's a good idea to first read a book
about the animal(s). And parents should always supervise.
In the wild, animals should be left alone as much as
Children must be taught care and responsibility for
people and animals.
Water management and city councils don't show enough
consideration for fish welfare.
Every year many thousands of fish are victims of the
mismanagement of water boards and city councils. These
organizations often don't realize fully that the water
they manage holds millions of living creatures, including
A frequent cause of massive fish deaths is the pumping
of ditches and ponds for maintenance work. The companies
that execute this maintenance have not been - sufficiently
- instructed by city council or water management on
how to consider the welfare of fish and other animals.
It's often passers-by who notice the fish dying. Other
causes of fish dying are spilling sewer pipes, the mowing
of water plans and the use of polluted slags from blast
Marijke is co-auther of an article on this site about the goldfishbowl.
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