Right of Reply: Richard Lee

The news editor of The Angling Times replies to criticisms of his sport by Mike Handley
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EVERY NOW and again, angling comes under fire from ill-informed do-gooders who feel compelled to take a swipe at a sport enjoyed by millions. So it came as no surprise when I read the comments of Mike Handley, an alleged "new" recruit to the lentil-eating anti-angling brigade, whose recent brush with fishing left him nominating the sport as an equal to cock-fighting.

Of course, like any right minded individual you would expect Handley's claims to be based on sound scientific grounds. Sadly not. A recent review of fish welfare literature, by the Institute of Freshwater Ecology, covering major research programmes worldwide on the effects of pain in fish, concluded: "There is no evidence of chronic, long-term adverse affects of the capture and release." And: "There is no substantive evidence within the literature which suggests that fish experience pain as mammals appear to."

Mr Handley and his son obviously failed to unearth this report when they trawled the library, choosing to gather their flawed facts from the fabled book Emotive Garbage by Poppy Cock. While I am almost certain that the Handleys are now lost to this sport for ever, I feel comforted that the millions of anglers that remain will continue to care for the environment, and fight against the ravages of pollution.

Indeed, the Government- funded Environment Agency regards fishermen as the eyes and ears of our waterways and invaluable campaigners for the quality of the countryside.

It was my father who told me: "If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, give him a fishing rod and you feed him for life."

Perhaps if the whole of society were to feel as fulfilled in their lives as anglers do, our planet would be a healthier, more tolerant place to live.