The Angler in the Environment: Social, Economic, Biological, and Ethical Dimensions

Fishing Culture, Animal Policy, and New Governance: A Case Study of Voluntary Catch-and-Release Fishing in Finland

Pekka Salmi and Outi Ratamäki


Abstract.—In this article, we examine the different values and cultural representations of catch-and-release fishing and of human–animal relations in general. The focus is on various images of good and ethical recreational fishing practices, particularly in the context of catch-and-release fishing in Finland. The material consists of scientific articles and newspaper articles and policy documents related to fishing and human–wildlife relations. Despite the fact that modern societies show increasing interest in animal rights—often challenging traditional practices like hunting—animal welfare and nature protection groups seem to support the traditional “northern subsistence culture” in the Finnish case of recreational fishing. The context of traditional human–nature relations overrides modern human–animal relations. However, the complexity and diversity of recreational fisher groups and public debate are increasing. This calls for clarification of the ambiguous terminology of catch-and-release fishing as well as for new policy institutions where different views and values could be governed.