A POWERFUL US animal rights group are to launch a hard-hitting campaign in Scotland to ban angling and commercial fishing.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have decided to target Scotland because of its abundance of salmon rivers and tradition for blood sports.
Centrepiece of the campaign will be a poster showing a puppy with a metal hook in its mouth and the caption: "If you wouldn't do this to a dog, why do it to a fish?"
The group are also planning a Scottish version of an US TV commercial in which a Boy Scout condemns fishing as barbaric and calls on the organisation to ban it as a badge-winning pursuit.
The move has alarmed angling groups and countryside campaigners because PETA has a huge following in the US and has considerable financial muscle. The organisation claim to have 700,000 members worldwide, 40,000 of them in the UK.
The advertising campaign, to be launched this summer, claims that fish die a slow, agonising death by suffocation when they are pulled from the water.
PETA is also opposed to commercial fishing and, in conjunction with its anti-angling campaign, plans to target Scotland's hard-pressed fishing fleets.
"We think we have the potential to make a big impact over here," said Dawn Carr, PETA's anti-fishing co-ordinator who has moved to Britain to spearhead the Scottish and UK campaigns.
She added: "Because fish look so different from the animals with whom we are more familiar, such as cats and dogs in our homes, their well-being is often not considered.
"With our campaign, we aim to show that fish, like all animals, treasure their lives and feel pain, and that they suffer horrors when impaled in the mouth and yanked out of their environment.
A spokesman for the Loch Lomond Angling Association said: "Fishing is the largest participant sport in Scotland and it is simply ridiculous to suggest it be banned.
"We are becoming a nation of obese television addicts who spend all day on the Internet. People should be congratulated for promoting outdoor activites such as angling.
"It's a healthy and relaxing sport that does not involve fighting, which is more than I can say for many other sports such as football, rugby and boxing."
A spokesman for the Scout Association added: "The campaign is flawed and they have not done their research."