Dan Maio, drummer of Melbourne-based bands The Getaway Plan and ECCA VANDAL, has definitely changed his ways! In a revealing Facebook post, he recounted the heartbreaking experiences that he’s had with catch-and-release fishing and said that he no longer participates in the cruel “sport.” In the post, which was shared by well-known Australian animal rights activist James Aspey, Dan explained what catch-and-release fishing is really like for fish.

"I used to trick animals onto sharpened hooks. Sometimes I'd use two or three just to make sure they couldn't get away….

Posted by James Aspey on Tuesday, October 18, 2016

“I used to trick animals on to sharpened hooks. Sometimes, I’d use two or three just to make sure they couldn’t get away,” he wrote.

“The hooks would cut their mouths open and, more often than you’d think, pierce them somewhere on the face, even in the eyes. I didn’t even do it to eat. Like millions of others, I did it for ‘fun’.”

After the Facebook post went viral, Dan penned an op-ed to give a full account of his reasons for quitting fishing. He explained that it’s a common misconception that fish don’t feel pain:

If I had done these things to a dog or a cat, people would want me in jail. But here I am, talking about fish. “Fish have no pain receptors”, they say. “Don’t worry, they’re too stupid to understand.”

When he fished, Dan thought that the release was what made the activity harmless for the animals—even when he saw fish he had tossed back in hit rocks on their way down.

One life-changing encounter with a fish quickly changed Dan’s longstanding view of the cruel activity:

“I did this for 10 years, until one day in Perth, I held in my hands one of the prettiest fish I’d ever seen. He was scared and oxygen-deprived, and I’d torn almost his entire bottom lip right the way around. Fish don’t have arms or legs to help them get by. All they have is their lips and mouths to gather food, build nests, and protect their young. Damaging these parts of their body can be fatal, even if they are swiftly released.”

I had the sudden realisation that I had ruined this fish’s life. The one I’m holding in this photo is (and will always be) the last fish I ever caught. I was an arsehole. I’m sorry but, at the same time, forever grateful that he helped me flick the switch.

Now a vegan, Dan uses his visibility to speak up for animals. He urges others not to engage in catch-and-release fishing like he did: “So before you cast a line out this summer, cast a thought to those whose lives and homes you might be about to ruin.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Check out the full op-ed here.

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