Fish Feel: Your Page

This page is devoted to you who know fish to be sentient beings deserving of respect, appreciation, and the right to live free from gratuitous human harm. If you’d like to share the story of how you came to this realization, or that you’ve always intuitively known it, please send it to:

Walt Rave was a pioneering animal rights activist who passed away while trying to rescue his beloved cats from a house fire. Read: What Fox Guy Had to Teach Us. Shy by nature, Walt abandoned his comfort zone to advocate for animals in the most assertive, emphatic, and creative ways his artistic mind could imagine. Click here for photos. This page is in memory of Walt. His message to animal rights activists would be: Be Bold.

I was taught how to fish by my dad, being Japanese/Canadian it was part of our background. Japanese when they first came to Canada were involved in salmon fishing on the west coast. When i was born in Toronto and grew up fishing we never thought about causing pain to other sentient  beings. It wasn’t until i got involved in animal activism that it truly hit home. This would have been around 1994, when i met Leslie ... Read More
June 1, 2019Howard
Nobody in New Zealand lives too far from the water, and it was a common sight when I was growing up in the 1950s to see whole families fishing from piers and from coastal rocks. I remember myself once as a young child reluctantly dangling a line from a pier, and feeling some tugs at the end of it. I do not remember bringing in any fish though I might have blocked it from my ... Read More
December 20, 2018Howard
I learned to fish when I was very young. I used to use raw hot dogs as bait while sitting on the dock of a family member's house in South Florida. I always saw fishing as a fun mystery. I never knew what fish I was going to catch and the surprise was just so exciting to anticipate. I have always loved fish and all sea life, which was ironically part of my fascination ... Read More
December 4, 2018Howard
Like a lot of people I was brought up to believe it's "okay" to kill. I did, with every meal, every celebration, every holiday and every outing with friends and family. I ate animals for more than 50 years, and spent many days fishing with my father. Like a lot of other girls it was an opportunity to spend time with him, since he didn’t enjoy things like sewing or shopping, plus I enjoyed the ... Read More
October 26, 2018Howard
I am living proof that change is possible! ** On your left was a conflicted, non-thinking, culturally driven, 'animal-loving' follower. I used to always do what everyone else was doing just for the sake of fitting in and being accepted, and for the most part, none of it sat well in my heart. ** Every fish I caught was met with feelings of heartbreak. I would apologize to the fish (silently of course, I couldn't let my ... Read More
September 22, 2018Howard
Most of my life I thought fishing was a hobby and I hurt a lot of fish. I would snag and gaff fish with hooks at sea and occasionally eat what I killed. I would also eat tuna sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, fish sticks, etc... I was completely oblivious to the suffering I caused and financially supported. When I realized a couple years ago that I wasn't more important than other humans and animals, I couldn't ... Read More
September 18, 2018Howard
I unfortunately used to fish. The last time I ever did was on the family farm. I caught a Rio Grande Cichlid, and asked if I could clean him myself. My dad told me he thought this would bother me, but I really wanted to learn how to do this. I can tell you from this moment forever burned in my memory that fish want to live. As I delivered the fatal cut to this dear ... Read More
August 16, 2018Howard
I grew up with a fishing boat and spent the night on it with my family every weekend. Unfortunately, my parents went fishing almost every time we went. I remember watching them reel in a clearly struggling fish and throw her in a cooler like her suffering didn’t matter. When we got back to the dock, I watched them filet the same fish who was swimming freely just hours earlier. I went back to kindergarten ... Read More
July 26, 2018Howard
I remember...deciding I could never eat anything that had a face: When I was five, we were on holiday on a farm, and there was this cute chicken running around. Later I realised it had been dished up on my plate. From that moment on, I’ve never wanted to eat meat or fish.
June 27, 2018Howard
When my first daughter was about six years old, I took her fishing for the first time in a small pond near Amherst, Massachusetts. I bought two fishing rods from a local K-Mart and headed to a nearby pond with her. I read all of the fishing rod instructions and followed the entire procedure carefully, but baiting the hook with worms seemed harder than solving a differential equation. A friendly neighbor saw my struggle and ... Read More
June 27, 2018Howard
Hunting and fishing were my passions in life. I realized that despite what I had been told, I was not biologically a meat eater. Since I had no biological necessity to eat meat, I had no necessity to kill the animals I was eating. Oddly enough, I felt like I was an animal lover. And I believed that I was doing what was best for them as a species (I was wrong). And I honestly did ... Read More
May 23, 2018Howard
There was a time in my life when fly-fishing was my life. I was a true fish bum. My entire existence revolved around the “sport”...But as time went on, something changed within me. It was a gradual change — a slow raising consciousness, if you will. I fought it at first, and even tried to block it out, but eventually I had to face it. I knew what I was doing was wrong... There are few ... Read More
May 23, 2018Howard
LETTER: In Appreciation of Our "Underwater Cousins" By Cynthia Cruser, published in The Independent on August 31, 2017. I was born in Providence in 1952, and my family has been in New England since the 1600s. My childhood memories hold cherished summer days spent each year on the salt ponds and beaches of South County, often Charlestown. I remember quahoggging with my father and grandfather in Ninigret Pond, or Salt Pond if we visited Uncle ... Read More
May 13, 2018Howard
"My reason for becoming a vegetarian was simple: I loved (and love) animals and I don't want to be involved in anything that leads to or contributes to their suffering. At first this led me to give up beef and chicken. Then fish (if you've ever spent time with fish you realize pretty quickly that they feel pain and are much happier not being hooked or speared or netted). Then I thought, "I don't want ... Read More
March 20, 2018Howard
I was living as a boarder in a house where they had too many pets. The cats and the dog got lots of love but the bunnies and fishes were virtually ignored and weren't getting adequate care. One day the grandmother, who moved in temporarily while I was living there, brought home a blue Betta fish. I had seen Bettas in pet stores before and always felt deeply saddened and angry for them being trapped ... Read More
November 18, 2017Howard
When I was a small child, my grandfather would take me fishing with him. When I was really little, he would do the fishing while I walked along the river bank looking for frogs and turtles. I always loved animals so to me going fishing with my grandfather was so much fun. As I got older he taught me how to fish. I would always have a bucket of water by the river bank, so ... Read More
July 1, 2017Howard
A Story of Love, Speciesism, and Vendetta - She had no name. I want you to remember that throughout. It troubles me to this day that after all the ways in which she influenced my life, I hadn’t even bothered to give her a name. I will call her E for the sake of this story. E came to us in a bowl crammed with eight other goldfishes*. It was my brother’s birthday, and someone ... Read More
March 12, 2017Howard
I used to fish loads as a child then gave it up. I then started up again a couple of years ago and always wondered why I gave it up in the first place as I had so much fun. I never fished in the winter as I hated sitting in the cold for hours. I turned vegan a couple of winters ago and still then thought fishing was as a cruelty free sport (stupid ... Read More
March 4, 2017Howard
As the daughter of a country boy from Nebraska, fishing was the only meaningful time spent with my father. So, all six children learned to fish, and I cherished alone time with my father who never learned to truly love fish. I stopped fishing when I was a teenager, and became a vegetarian. I am unwilling to put a hook or to extract a hook, from the mouth a living being. Nor can I ever ... Read More
February 25, 2017Howard
Donald Trump once argued against fishing: 'I believe it's painful for the fish' A report from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that said fish have feelings, too. "Whenever my sons go fishing, they always tell me, 'Dad, it doesn't hurt a fish to get hooked.' Well, I watch and I see and I believe it's painful for the fish," Trump said. ... Read More
February 25, 2017Howard
This tattoo is in memory of a fish that I witnessed in person being beaten to death. For a school project I chose to capture pictures of animals in their natural environment and ironically I thought joining my dad on a fishing trip would be the perfect place to do this. I hadn't even considered that he was there to remove them from their environment. Anyway, it was my first time out on a fishing ... Read More
November 20, 2016Howard
[M]y reason behind choosing a lobster [tattoo] was that they are treated with such extreme cruelty but often overlooked. My Dad used to work in a frozen food depot and he told me about the hundreds of lobsters with bands around their claws, kept barely alive in the freezer until they were delivered to restaurants to be boiled. I'm haunted by those images and although I'm vegan now, I am glad I've never eaten lobster ... Read More
November 20, 2016Howard
I used to trick animals onto sharpened hooks. Sometimes I'd use two or three just to make sure they couldn't get away. The hooks would cut their mouths open, more often than you’d think, hook them somewhere on the face, even in the eyes.. I didn't do it to eat. In no way if I didn't do it would I not survive. Like millions of others, I did it for ‘fun’. Once the animal realized what ... Read More
November 8, 2016Howard
I was taken out fishing in a rowboat when I was a little girl. When the man told me he was going to put the hook through a worm, I wouldn't let him. I screamed and fought the worm away from him until he took me home. (I put the worm in my yard)
October 5, 2016Howard
Yeah, when I run on the beach, I see people fishing from time to time. The fish really put up a struggle. I watch children who are supposed to be having this 'bonding' experience with their relatives, usually a dad. The kids are horrified as they watch the fish struggle. I've posted here before, but I've been known to run by and say to the child, 'Not very humane, is it.'
August 11, 2016Howard
I used to go fishing once in awhile when I was a boy. It was catch and release, mostly of sunfish no bigger than my hand. One day, when I was in my early teens, I saw a man with a group of boys showing how to remove a hook from a caught fish. It must have been a barbed hook, because before my eyes, this man pulled a chunk of the fish's mouth out ... Read More
August 5, 2016Howard
While viewing some of the star fish that were attached to the pier one afternoon, I over heard a father speaking to his two sons. Both sons holding fishing poles, with a small plastic bucket they were using to store their caught fish. Barely large enough to fit one full fish into. As I continue to watch from a far I cannot help but shed a tear when the oldest son pulls a fish from ... Read More
August 5, 2016Howard
I used to fly fish. I thought it was ok because I used only barbless hooks and never killed a fish. I always released them. But after learning the truth about fish I gave the practice up years ago. Wish I had done so sooner.
July 20, 2016Howard
"I remember being little and my family took me to Red Lobster for dinner. When I saw the lobsters in the tank, I asked why they were there. When someone told me, I threw a fit and started sobbing uncontrollably because I couldn't understand why someone would want to eat a lobster. Even at that age, I understood. It isn't complicated. All living things feel pain and can suffer."
June 24, 2016Howard
i was five when i witnessed fish gasping for breath and screaming with their eyes. in a bucket on my grandfathers boat. i pushed that bucket off the boat. i was smacked violently. it was worth it. it was 1971.
June 24, 2016Howard
I can't believe people actually think these living [animals] don't feel or have emotions!! I feel so guilty because I used to be one of these people and I never questioned it when I was little and growing up because I was told they had a 3 second memory and I stupidly believed it because I didn't know any better! I am just so glad I worked it all out for myself in the end ... Read More
June 6, 2016Howard
When I was in high school…..oh….so many years ago. Our science class went on a field trip to the beach with our science teacher. We were in Southern California and there were plenty of beaches. However, I now realize, and maybe it was a sign of the times, but my science teacher had no concept of preservation let alone mercy. At the beach, he instructed us to go forth and make discoveries. So …we did. As a child, for years I ... Read More
May 29, 2016Howard
One time I was walking along the marina in Westport, WA and I watched 2 young men catch a salmon and proceed to punch [him or her] in the face several times very hard. I left and actually got ill from watching such disgusting violence to a beautiful creature. 😣😓😦😡 I will never forget it as long as I live.
May 29, 2016Howard
I would feed a puffer fish that lived under my parent's dock. He was very much like a pet and would give me kisses and swim around with me. I believe that fish have feelings.
May 29, 2016Howard
I use to like fishing until i got older. One time i caught one and the hook was straight through its eye. I cried. I never fish anymore and i never will again. Just because you're a human and a fish is "just a fish" doesn't make [them] any less valuable.
May 9, 2016Howard
If ever there was any doubt that fish feel pain, yesterday I took my 6 year old goldfish to the vet for the first time for an internal infection that wasn't responding to medicated baths. I have to give her antibiotic injections and she definitely felt and responded when the needle pricked her.
May 9, 2016Howard
"I was so young but I instinctively knew fishing was wrong. My family teased me about it as families are want to do. But those feelings never left me. It's the same for a lot of kids."
March 4, 2016Howard
I was lucky enough to do a lot of scuba diving over a three year period about 8 years ago. In their natural environment fish are fascinating, and their interesting behavior and interaction with each other and often humans, too, suggest a greater level of awareness and intelligence than they are generally credited with. I was a semi vegetarian before I started scuba diving - no meat or dairy but I still occasionally ate fish. ... Read More
March 4, 2016Howard
I went on a fishing trip when I was a little kid and I even had my own fishing rod. The first time I saw the fish in the bucket struggling to breathe I knew it wasn't ok and I would never fish again! And I never have! Just because I can't give fish a cuddle doesn't mean they can be written off as lesser beings! I know I ate them for many years but ... Read More
March 4, 2016Howard
Joaquin Phoenix
I was three... there were five kids and we literally screamed at our parents and said, ‘We are never going to eat meat again.’ Because we were on a boat, and they were catching fish, and they were throwing fish against the side of the boat in order to kill them, they are flopping around ... and it was undeniable that it was brutal, barbaric and horrible for us, and so we said that. I ... Read More
November 29, 20154Fishes
Kim Benson
About 18 months after going vegetarian one of my friends invited me to her house for dinner and I promptly mentioned that I was a vegetarian but fish would be OK. My friend said that I wasn't a proper vegetarian because fish was also meat. I had always placed fish in a slightly different category simply because it was a sea rather than a land animal. However, when I really took the time to consider this, ... Read More
November 29, 20154Fishes
Kathlene L.
I used to enjoy going fishing even though I don't like to eat fish. For me it was always catch and release. But over time, I realized that I was hurting the fish and the bait that I used and decided that I wasn't going to fish anymore. I have a couple of dozen fish in my pond and they are smart. They recognize me, they know I feed them and they even nibble my ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Phil Stehbens
In my youth, over 40 years ago, I was a gifted spearfisherman who won many state tournaments, could dive to 30 metres to spear fish using breath-holding techniques, & embarked on many frontier diving adventures that pushed my diving skills to the limit. Over those years I came to the realisation that fish are in no way different in their behaviour to wild land animals & in so many cases were so much more curious and ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Sue V. Grisham
I over-medicated our fish maybe about 20(?) years ago. When I noticed that the little ones were dying, I scooped the rest into a bowl until I could change the aquarium water before any others died. It was sad, because it was my fault. But the interesting thing was that I laid the dead ones on a napkin on the counter by the sink, so I could bury them in the yard after dinner. We had ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Jamie Cohen
While snorkling in the Red Sea on a trip to Israel in the 90's, I was enjoying seeing all of the beautiful fishes as I slowly kicked my fins. I had snorkled many times before and just marveled at the variety and abundance of colorful fish here. The fish swam by me and around me and then I noticed one particular fish who was staying still about two feet away. He or she might have been ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Maryanne Appel
Maryanne Appel is a board member of Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Environment (CARE) When I was a child, I witnessed my father boiling crabs alive. I can see them still, and hear the scraping of their claws against the metal sides of the pot. And my father pushing the lid back down again and again to prevent their escape. All I could do as a child of nine or ten was stand by and watch, ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Louis de Funès
(the very funny and popular French actor) I gave up fishing the day I realized that when caught the fish did not wriggle with joy.
November 29, 20144Fishes
Angie Harrison
Having kept fish (before I knew better) and scuba dived for years, I am well aware of their intelligence and emotion. I stopped eating sea life 20 years ago as the barbarity and unsustainability of the industry was obvious even then. It's not only fishing that poses a threat, ignorant acts such as shark killing vendettas are as insane as giving home invaders a legal right to kill the home owners because they pose a ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Donny Moss
Donny Moss is the founder of Their Turn, animal rights news/media Growing up on the water in Miami, Florida, I thought nothing of throwing a rod in the bay and fishing for fun. On the rare occasions when I actually caught a fish, I couldn't take him or her off the hook. Someone else had to do it for me. I don't think it had anything to do with empathy for the fish; I was just ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Sir Paul McCartney
Many years ago, I was fishing, and as I was reeling in the poor fish, I realised, "I am killing him — all for the passing pleasure it brings me." Something inside me clicked. I realised, as I watched him fight for breath, that his life was as important to him as mine is to me.
November 29, 20144Fishes
Arthur Ling
Arthur Ling is the Founding Director of Plamil Foods Ltd, as well as Honorary Patron and former President of The Vegan Society I was brought up in an orthodox meat-eating environment but when I was aged about 6 or 7 and on holiday with my parents, I saw a large fish being hauled up on the pier and the way it was hacked about revolted me. From that moment I could not face any flesh on ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
When I was a kid I was horrified to watch my father slam the fish he'd caught on the bottom of the row boat in order to 'really kill it.' Its an image that stuck in my head forever and still makes me feel sick. See:
November 29, 20144Fishes
I have just recently stopped eating seafood after years of not eating other meat, and it was the book Eating Animals that changed my perception of fishing, and the fish themselves. My revulsion of factory farming was the easiest way for me to stop eating seafood, as I could immediately relate modern farming of land animals to the mass destruction of the ocean and its inhabitants. I also grew up camping and fishing with my ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
I, too, used to fish, and took pride in the number I was able to catch. I learned from my dad how to kill and clean them. It wasn't until I was 30 years ago and on a fishing boat, where the captain found a school of fish for us using sonar, that the horror of what I was doing finally sunk in. Even so, I continued to eat fish for 20 more years. I ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
I stopped eating fish too after I realised that fishes are also just like us. I saw some small fishes being protected by its mother and I felt sorry for them.
November 29, 20144Fishes
Murry Cohen
I am a physician in my 70s. I have been disgusted by the thought of fishing ever since I can remember. I recall once, at a lake in northern Canada, at the age of 9 or so, my father forced me to fish against my will and insisted I pose for a picture carrying a dead fish, with my fingers in the fish’s eyes. I think I still have the picture. The expression on my ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Victoria Moran
I'm not sure how old I was — maybe nine, maybe ten — and the "Boat, Sports, and Travel Show" had come to town as it did every year, and every year we went. (We hit the Home Show and the Auto Show, too. I think a lot of families did that in those days.) Anyway, I got an hour's leave from parental supervision to explore the big exposition hall and there was a tank where kids ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Noam Lautman
I became interested in vegetarianism when I was about 10 years old. My uncle and his family took me to an upscale fish restaurant where they ordered lobster on a bed of rice. I had never seen such a thing before, and it was quite a shock to see a whole lobster sitting there, just as advertised, on a bed of rice. I could hardly look at it and went to eat at another table. ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Charles Stahler
Charles Stahler is a co-founder and co-director of the Vegetarian Resource Group. When I became vegetarian, it never occurred to me to eat fish. It is fascinating how many people see fish differently from other animals. Interestingly, when we went "fishing" when young, my father always taught us to put the fish in water in a bucket, and not let it flap around in the boat, so it wouldn't suffer more than necessary. We were still ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Yueyue Guo
Yueyue Guo was a winner of the Vegetarian Journal's 2010 youth essay contest. It was the smell that got to me first. It was my first trip to a Chinatown at age eight, and I was standing right in front of the seafood counter, waiting for my mother to buy the fish that she would turn into a delicious dinner dish later that night. The stench that emanated from the whole seafood area was a combination ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati
THE LAST FISH (initially posted on Care2) When I was a child, I was taught that killing fish was supposed to be relaxing. It was a time to bond with family and friends; a game, or rather a sport, called “fishing”. Thankfully this lesson didn’t stick and even before I became vegetarian and then vegan, I realized that any activity that ends in watching another animal die cannot be called a game or sport; for any ... Read More
November 29, 20144Fishes
Steve Hindi
I WAS A FISH KILLER I first fished at age five, with my brother Greg, who is one year younger. Each of us caught a perch out of a lake in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Fascinated, we watched the two perch swim around in a small bucket until  first one and then the other died. I don't remember what happened to  their bodies, but I know they were not large enough to eat. Perch are  plentiful, and ... Read More
November 27, 20144Fishes
Nate Musson
It is now glaringly clear to me that fish are conscious beings and I often take for granted that so many others don’t see it the same way. I grew up in north central Montana, in my family the activities of fishing and hunting were synonymous with enjoying the outdoors and putting food on the table. Although, as a child, I do remember talking with my dad about the negative return on investment of a hunting ... Read More
November 27, 20144Fishes