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Fishing for Sport

Question: Since fishing for food is permitted is fishing for sport permitted? When a fisherman goes fishing he can not determine if his catch is going to be kosher or not. Is he permitted to fish for sport (ie the fish is used for trophy purposes) if the fish is kosher? What if the fish is non-kosher? What if the fish can not be eaten because of safety reasons?

Answer: Thank you for your interesting question. It is forbidden by our Torah to cause unnecessary suffering to any animals or fish (Kosher or non-Kosher) based on the verses in Shemos/Exodus 23:5, and in Devarim/Deuteronomy 24:4. However, it is permitted to use them for constructive purposes, such as for eating or medical research, as long as no unnecessary suffering is caused to them. Regarding fishing and hunting for sport, although theoretically it might be argued that this is causing suffering for a “constructive purpose”, i.e. recreation for the human, the Nodeh BiYehuda (a great Halachic authority of the 18th century) writes that a Jew should not engage in these activities for purely recreational purposes, as it is a very cruel thing to do, and inappropriate for a Jew to engage in. However, if the purpose of the fishing is to eat or sell the fish, the fact that some of the fish are not Kosher or not safe to be eaten is not a reason to refrain from this.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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