How to humanely prepare your catch
With summer in full swing and the promise of a free feed out on the water or foraging on the shore, it’s a good time to give some thought to the humane treatment of the marine life we’re catching.
Because they look so alien its easy to imagine that marine animals don’t feel pain the same way we do.
From a young age many junior anglers are reassured fishing doesn’t really hurt the fish.
‘‘The belief that marine life, with the exception of marine mammals like whales, dolphins and seals, don’t feel pain and so can’t suffer is wrong,’’ former director of University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory, marine scientist and keen fisherman Dr John Montgomery says.
‘‘Though they don’t appear to feel the same level of pain as us, fish do still feel pain when hooked,’’
So its important to get the fish out of the water and dispatch them as quickly as possible, Montgomery says. Fish shouldn’t be left flapping about in the bottom of the boat which is stressful for them, he says. It also affects the quality of their flesh as they won’t stay fresh as long.
It basically comes down to whether the animal has a brain, Cawthron Institute aquaculture expert Dr Norman Ragg says.
Throwing oysters straight down the hatch, paua on the ‘‘barbie’’, or a boil up of cockles remain a guilt free meal, as shellfish don’t have a brain, Ragg says.
Brain or knife spiking (iki jime) or plunging animals into salt water ice slurry for later dis- patch, so long as they’re not overcrowded, are commonly used for ethical handling and would be suitable for octopus, he says. The slurry acts like an anaesthetic.
Fin fish are covered by legislation with line fishing or netting deemed acceptable, but they should be iki’ed or put into an ice slurry quickly.
Crabs and crayfish also feel pain although Montgomery believes it is less than fish. They are also covered by the Welfare Code.
Throwing them into a pot of boiling water is no longer acceptable. They must be dead or uncon- scious.
Again iki or ice slurrying is recommended, or putting them in the freezer for 20 minutes until unresponsive.
Eels should be treated in the same way as fish, says Montgomery. They must also be unconscious or dead before de-sliming.