Fishing Lines: Lobster lovers are feeling the pinch

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The Independent Online

The Lobster Liberation Front are claiming a small victory in their battle to win council housing and full pension entitlements for crustaceans. Whole Foods, an American supermarket chain, have stopped selling lobsters because they want "to sup- port who they are as a creature".

It will probably not surprise you to know that those barmpots from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have been wheeling away behind the scenes. A spokesman claimed: "Scientists say there is no dispute that lobsters have brains and feel pain like other animals." Peta-backed scientists, that is.

It hasn't been a good week for those trying to eat four portions of seafood a week. Eating lots of oily fish (tuna, mackerel, trout, salmon) lowers the risk of heart disease, makes you hugely attractive to women and gets you cheap fares on buses. But it's getting ever harder to catch. This hot weather is hell for trout fishing. If you hook a salmon, it's probably got to be returned to preserve dwindling stocks. You can eat that farmed stuff, but it's dyed and fed on pellets to bump up its weight. When you cook farmed salmon, those white bits are fat. Thought you'd like to know.

Meanwhile, unscrupulous trawlers are illegally plundering the last remaining breeding grounds of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature. Soaring demand, especially from sushi bars, is causing the problem.

And now I suppose we will face pressure for a Crustacean Council to oversee lobster rights. To help you make an informed decision on the issue of whether they feel pain as we know it, I'm going to tell you how to catch lobsters and crabs on a fishing rod.

First, choose a suitable spot. Dover's Admiralty Pier and Newhaven Breakwater are good locations. Second, don't fish for them with traditional methods. I spent hours once getting bite after bite and not hooking a thing. I worked out that as my bait trundled above the seabed, dozens of crabs stood on top of one another, rather like those tumblers you see at a circus, trying to grab it. As the highest one reached for the bait, the pyramid collapsed. My float zoomed under, but the topmost crab let go as he fell. Bet they had a good laugh at my puzzlement.

Anyway, back to catching them. Equip your reel with 200 yards of line, and cast as far as you can. Do not set the brake to stop overruns. On the contrary. With any luck, your reel will spin wildly, creating a nightmare tangle. Take this and tie it around your bait (a chunk of squid or fresh mackerel is recommended). Put some more line on your reel and cast into lobster or crab country.

What happens is that as the crustaceans try to snaffle your bait, their legs get tangled in the line. When you wind in, you'll find you have snared them without causing any damage. Environmentally friendly fishing.

Here comes the tricky part. Is it just one step down from man, or dumb as a Big Brother contestant? Don't let the fact that it will taste delicious influence you.

Now you have to make a serious decision: whether to cook it Thermidor, Newburg or Fra Diavolo.

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