AN ANIMAL rights organisation has asked the Oxford English Dictionary to change its definition of the word ‘fisherman’.

The European arm of Peta, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote to John Simpson, the publication’s chief editor, after a new study at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science and Purdue University in the US found that fish feel and remember pain.

Peta offered the following revised definitions of the word: l A person ignorant of, oblivious to or indifferent to the fact that he or she is inflicting pain by catching, suffocating, stabbing and gutting fish; someone who is hooked on cruelty.

l A person who “relaxes” by impaling water-dwelling animals; often a person too out of shape to participate in a real sport.

l A man looking for an excuse to wear thigh-high waders.

Fisherman Ian Horrocks, who works with Oxford City Council to teach inner-city children about angling, said: “Fishermen are regarded as the guardians of the riverbank, we report any incidents of pollution and certainly my project teaches safe handling of fish and proper care of fish.

“The whole sport is very aware of people who think it’s a bloodsport, and the vast majority of fish caught are returned.”

Mr Simpson, of the OED, said: “They’ve already written directly to us, and we have written back to them to thank them for their comments, which will be filed for consideration when we review the entry.”