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Is catch and release fishing permitted? I've heard different opinions on this matter. Whats the official halacha?

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    Why wOuld it be forbidden? – Baal Shemot Tovot Apr 9 '12 at 1:26
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    @Vram Maybe tzaar baalei chayim? There's a noda' beyehuda on the topic I need to track down. – Double AA Apr 9 '12 at 1:56
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    @DoubleAA, the NB permits (hunting) because of tzaar baalei chaim since it has human purpose, but calls it achzarios and bad for the midos. – YDK Apr 9 '12 at 3:54
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    possible duplicate of Tzar Balay Chaim for Fish – simchastorah Apr 11 '12 at 0:09
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    Hello oriole4008, (a slightly belated, yet warm) welcome to Judaism.SE, and thank you for this excellent question! I hope to see you around the site! – HodofHod Apr 17 '12 at 0:52
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Rav Moshe Feinstein has a great responsa in which he says that if it gives you pleasure you may hunt. Fish are generally considered to be lower life forms in that we grant fish fewer halakhic protections (for example eiver min ha'hai does not apply to fish). Though Rav Moshe does say in his responsa that it is not something that he thins is great to do it is not assur. Based on that I would say that in the case of fishing where the fish is not permanently hurt and that fish are generally afforded fewer protections it would certainly be permissible.

My sense is that Rav Moshe would not feel that C&R fishing would be considered unadvisable as he says hunting mammals is.

שו"ת אגרות משה חושן משפט חלק ב סימן מז

כי כל דבר שהוא לצורך האדם ליכא איסור צער בע"ח =בעלי חיים= דהא התירה התורה שחיטה ולא רק לאכילת ישראל אלא אף לאכילת נכרים מותר לשחוט, ואף לכבוד דאדם בעלמא

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    Thanx! I think I will do it soon! – oriole4008 Apr 9 '12 at 2:33
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    @oriole4008 Please remember that this website does not provide a substitute to qualified rabbinic advice, and you should check with your local rabbi before acting on anything you see here. – Double AA Apr 9 '12 at 4:09
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    In the teshuvah of Rav Moshe that you quote, Rav Moshe is NOT saying that hunting is permissible for pleasure. Look at the teshuvah - it is talking about killing PESTS, not hunting. Furthermore, לכבוד האדם does not mean "for pleasure". It means that you are permitted to kill pests even if they are not posing a danger, so long as they are a nuisance to people. Additionally, Rav Moshe advises people to kill pests by setting traps, rather than directly so they won't be imbued with a spirit of cruelty. – Toras EMES 613 Apr 10 '12 at 19:05
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    Setting aside the specific question of "catch and release" of fish, it's unwarranted to infer that Rav Moshe permitted killing animals in general for sport or pleasure. The concept of לצורך האדם refers to a tangible benefit, which is why you need an additional source (from פריקה) to teach you about לכבוד האדם. Pleasure is not a tangible human benefit, and לכבוד האדם, within the context of the teshuvah, refers to the removal of a nuisance. – Toras EMES 613 Apr 10 '12 at 22:48
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    LeTzorech Ha'Adam must refer to adding pleasure of some sort and lechvod h'adam the prevention of some pain. This is the case because the example R Moshe uses is about adding pleasure ie shechita for nochrim as aposed to avoiding some pain to a person. Either way it is clear that R Moshe is against hunting even if he did not say assur. – Eytan Yammer Apr 10 '12 at 23:20
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There are a number of opinions that state that catch and release is forbidden halachically on account of צער בעלי חיים - causing the animal pain.

For example, according to the Rav Menashe Klein, Zt"l - Mishneh Halachot - Choshen Mishpat - Chelek 12, Siman 432, it is asur (forbidden) to fish for sport if the fish will not be used for food, and even if the fish is released and survives, hooking the fish's mouth is asur because it inflicts tza'ar (pain):

The following internet sources also maintain that catch and release is forbidden:

  • Toras EMES 613, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for these sources! I look forward to seeing you around. – Isaac Moses Apr 11 '12 at 3:56
  • I added an extra resource. Interesting halacha. I saw a youtube video showing a boat catching and releasing bonito and grouper in FL. Groupers are huge tough fish and you need a huge hook to catch them. You could clearly see the fish's mouth was slightly punctured by the hook as they released it. There's a reason why the fish fight hard! – DanF May 10 '17 at 16:17
  • Similarly, R. Eliezer Melamed forbids it ph.yhb.org.il/17-15-06 – yakzo Aug 2 '18 at 1:46
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HaRav Yitzchak Yosef Shelit"a holds it is asur to fish simply for pleasure. If I remember correctly, it is because of Saar Bale Hayim

  • Because of bishul bishabbat or lo tigzol? – Baal Shemot Tovot Apr 17 '12 at 3:21
  • @vram huh???????? – Hacham Gabriel Apr 17 '12 at 3:22
  • Well you didn't provide a reason in your answer, so I did my best guessing. (k, maybe not my best.) – Baal Shemot Tovot Apr 17 '12 at 3:24
  • @vram If I remember correctly, it is becuase of Saar Bale Hayim. – Hacham Gabriel Apr 17 '12 at 3:26
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    Perhaps you should put that in your answer so people don't make the same mistake I did. – Baal Shemot Tovot Apr 17 '12 at 3:33

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