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Animal rights activists and their perceptions of recreational fishing
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Animal rights is a social movement founded on the principle that non-human animals possess intrinsic value and inherent rights rather than merely instrumental value. Hunting is among historical targets of the movement. With few exceptions, most animal rights groups have not targeted recreational fishing, an arguably crueler sport. To understand why most animal rights organizations do not specifically target recreational fishing, it was first necessary to understand how animal rights groups choose campaigns. Because little was known about animal rights and how campaigns are chosen, a qualitative methodology was used. The primary investigative technique used was in-depth informant interviews (n = 24), supplemented with participant observation and document analysis. Because of the politically-sensitive nature of using the term "informant," participants were referred to as interviewees. Results showed interviewees were equally opposed to recreational hunting and fishing because both inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on non-human animals and place non-human animals in a position of holding only instrumental value. However, because of limited numbers of activists, limited financial resources, and seemingly unlimited number of animal exploitation issues, interviewees were forced to make campaign priorities. It was concluded that campaigns were chosen based upon whether they were winnable with the public and therefore would further the animal rights movement and create greater compassion towards non-human animals. The five components of a winnable campaign are whether the public perceives the animal to be sentient, the issue as a luxury rather than a necessity, the animal or issue as relatable, the issue to challenge cultural traditions, and the issue as proximal. Currently, recreational fishing is not viewed by activists as a winnable campaign. Although recreational hunting is not perceived as a necessity and also as a challenge to strong cultural traditions, the anti-fishing campaign faces additional obstacles. Fish are not widely perceived as sentient, are difficult to relate to, and the activity is not seen as proximal. Accordingly, interviewees indicated the need to make inroads in the more winnable anti-hunting campaign before expanding to recreational fishing.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 103-107).
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Thailing, Carol Elizabeth (2002). Animal rights activists and their perceptions of recreational fishing. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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