I must admit that you have a point: how could a person who tracks down, tricks and captures an animal acuse anyone else of abuse?
Perhaps 'abuse' was not the most succint term to describe Deerhaawk's point, who has no reason to defend his shining record as a proactive environmentally dedicated steward of the resource. His actions speak loudly on his behalf. A more appropriate term would have been "genocide", which more accurately describes a systematic plague-like destruction of one of earth's precious and fragile miracles, our native anadramous salmonids.
I would make two points of my own:
1) No faction of human life cares more deeply for the welfare of fish than the C&R angler, if not for this growing active interest group no one would care but for a few lonely biologists. No one would fight for protective regulations like the WSC, no one would fight for removal of dams, no one would work to raise public awareness, fight to protect habitat, or care enough to stop the problem of fish farming side effects. We are the fish's best friend in the hard reality of our world today.
2) The bottom line is how fish are affected. If we are to be called abusers for a pin prick in the lip in exchange for our intense appreciation and desire to understand a species, then so be it. However if someone next door is eating that same fish dressed and filleted from the market having been caught in a gillnet, they too are abusers to a higher degree as the fish had to give it's life and body tissue for the table.
If a biologist captures and tags a fish with a radio transmitter to study it's movements, then he too must be an abuser. Even though his data has proven to be of immense value in understanding the behavior of the species as a whole.
Those salmon holding boxes in Scandinavian rivers - pure torture. In fact tagging of any species must fall into that category.
For that matter disciplining my dog to stop him from crapping on the living room carpet as a puppy, or ultimately forcing my own children to do their algebra before they went out to play, tears in their eyes as the other kids laughed and rode their bikes. How cruel I am, but this boy is now pulling a 3.8 GPA in college.
The PETA activists are obsessed with the 'pin prick' while they are part of the big societal steamroller that rolls over entire strains of dwindling fish species turning a blind eye to the real causes that affect our fish, like sea lice infestations in the sea. They don't see the forest for the trees when if comes to how fish are affected. These individuals are so lost they only think of individual animals feelings while entire races of these animals perish. Perhaps the right term for this is "hypocrisy".
Deerhaawk has everything to be proud of in terms of his record on behalf of fish, and I know he is just getting revv'ed up. I don't think it matters so much what the little terms are - abuse, genocide, hypocrisy etc. It matters most that he is actively involved, and cares about the species as a whole and is willing to invest time and energy toward their well-being. If everyone were as dedicated as he, the fish would be much, much better off.
IFFF Certified THCI @ 2005
Capeflyfisher Guide Service
Island Hopper, Guitarist, Incurable Dreamer
and Founder, Worldwide Flyfishing Forum