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A few questions about fishing
Hi, this is something that has been on my mind for quite some time. First, I would like to say that I realize that some Buddhists eat fish and/or fish for a living but I also know that non-harm and non-killing are part of the precepts. Bascially, what started this internal debate within myself was when I read in a dharma book years ago that as Buddhists we should refuse if our children ask for a gun to shoot birds or a fishing pole to catch fish.
Well, I've never been a hunter and I hate guns, but I've always loved to fish. I feel a deep connection to it - it seems very fufilling to me, not just a hobby or a way to get food. In fact, I almost never keep the fish I catch but try to release them back into the water with as little harm done as possible. However, I know that the fish is fighting for its life and is in a tremendous amount of fear and stress and of course sometimes you will hook the fish in the eye or deep in the throat even if you are not trying to harm it.
Many people say that fish do not have nerve endings in their mouths and thus do not feel pain but I don't believe that this is true. Even if it is not true pain, I know that the fish is terrified and can even die from shock after you release him. Surely this must generate negative karma for the person who causes the animal so much distress.
In the past, I have even gone as far as fishing without a hook - just a lure such as a plastic worm affixed to a swivel on the end of my line. The thrill for me is just enticing the animal to bite. I never use live bait, always artifical, but even this is teasing the animal - causing it to think that it has food and then scaring it when it feels something strange in its mouth. I can't help but wonder if even fishing without a hook doesn't produce some bad karma.
I haven't fished for a few years, mainly because I had moved away to a large city where there was no fishing available but now that I have moved back home and it is spring, I've been feeling a strong urge to go fishing. Like I said, I release what I catch back into the wild and always try to handle them properly but I still can't help but feel bad for the fish and part of me wants to quit fishing for good.
I guess my main question is just how bad is it to go fishing for sport? Can anyone share any insights?