By Zachary Granat
On May 2, the Supreme Court of Colombia ruled that recreational fishing was unconstitutional. As a result, Colombians expect a ban on recreational fishing to take effect within one year.
The decision comes after the Court’s 2019 ban on recreational hunting. Then, the Court held that recreational hunting was animal cruelty and a threat to the environment. It has made the same decision about recreational fishing.
The Court argued that recreational fishing “violates the principles of environmental protection and animal welfare” included in the Colombian constitution. Specifically, Article 79 requires the government to “protect the diversity and integrity of the environment.”
Although the law protects hunting and fishing for purposes of food, religion, culture and science, these exceptions do not extend to recreational fishing. However, many regions of Colombia depend on the recreational fishing of tourists for their local economy. Colombia is a popular fishing destination due to its many rivers and its coastline that borders both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
In an interview with the Colombian magazine El Espectador, Andrés Reyes, Director of the Colombian Association of Pisciculture and Fishing, reacted negatively to the decision.
“Banning catch and release fishing will dramatically accelerate the extinction of many species,” he says. He also claims the ban will harm many areas of the economy, from “fish hatcheries meant for sport fishing” to the “production of garments for sport fishing.”
Sergio Torres, a tour guide from La Uribe, Colombia, told The City Paper of Bogotá that the Court does not understand the practice of fishing.
The fishermen he serves, he says, “spend good money to catch large fish, and are very environmentally aware.” In his opinion, “taking a mature catfish out of a river to be eaten isn’t going to change the balance of nature.”
The Association of Sports Fishermen of Colombia (Colpescar) has said that they may appeal the decision.