The Constitutional Court of Colombia has ruled that sportfishing is unconstitutional because it violates the precautionary principle and the prohibition of animal abuse. The Court struck down the rules that regulated this practice, consisting of attracting, capturing and then releasing back into the water the fishes that are unfortunately caught.
The Court said that “Sportfishing is an activity that violates the precautionary principle and the prohibition of animal abuse, and therefore, must be excluded from the legal system…it is not possible to define with absolute certainty the harmful consequences of sport fishing, in terms of the principles of protection and animal welfare or the impact and deterioration of hydrobiological resources, but if there is relevant scientific information that requires avoiding harmful impacts on these beings and their environment, the exclusion of the activity should be preferred”.
The two laws that were struck down as a consequence of this ruling are the National Code of Renewable Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, as well as Law 13 of 1990 which created the General Fishing Statute and Law 84 of 1989.
The mandate to protect animals derives from the principle of ecological constitution, the social function of property and human dignity. Under that perspective, the Court considered animals as sentient beings, a statement that was rectified under Law 1774 of 2016, which amended the Animal Protection Statute 84 of 1989. The most important aspect of this decision is the use of the precautionary principle, which in this case was applied regarding the issue of not everyone agreeing if fishes feel pain and suffering. The Courts decided that, in this case, it is best to assume that they do. This principle should be applied in all other countries, considering the length the animal exploitation industries go to try to discredit any research about animal sentience and spread doubts about the common vegan principle that all animals are sentient beings.