In Canada in 2015, 3.2 million anglers kept 59 million (31%) of the 194 million fish they caught. What anglers did with those fish varies from person to person. Some fish died on stringers, in live wells, on the winter ice or in a cooler, on land or on the bottom of a boat. Most asphyxiated in air much like people drown in water. Fortunately, some were quickly and humanely dispatched with a blow to the head or a sharp penetrating object in the brain.
Many welfare organizations, including the Australian RSPCA recommend that fish that will be eaten be handled carefully to reduce stress and be humanely killed as soon as possible by stunning the fish before bleeding it out. Rapid killing is not only ethical, it is the best way to preserve the quality of the meat.
Stunning can be by a well placed blow to the head (Delta Tackle) or by spiking the brain with a sharp penetrating object. Most freshwater fish have small brains so a basic knowledge of their location is helpful (www.ikijime.com). Bleeding should be caused by cutting the gill rakers of stunned fish.
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