While not climbing related, this concerns the outdoors and an activity many climbers also enjoy: fishing. Unfortunately fishing in Germany for North Americans can be quite a shock. We are used to an entire continent of wilderness and wildlife. However, Europe’s much longer history of settlement, overpopulation, war and overfishing/hunting means such hobbies are restricted heavily.
Historical and Geographical Reasons
The lack of free space, extinction of many predators, and history of pollution means Europe very strictly regulates outdoor activities. The same goes for climbing as well by the way. While initially disappointing and annoying, we cannot forget Germany is the size of Montana yet filled with ~83 million people. In order to protect what’s left, laws simply must be more comprehensive. Moreover, these activities do not have the same history or appeal to the common man.
With Europe run by monarchies and aristocrats for nearly all of history, owning land and thereby hunting and fishing, were the domain of a privileged few. There was no frontier, no land to settle, no virgin country. The common man didn’t make his way through a new world. Land and hunting were the pastimes of rulers and the incredibly wealthy. This is actually not so dissimilar to today either.
Ask a German what they associate with hunting or fishing, and they will often respond: old, rich, conservative (maybe Bavarian) and male. Few people have ever held a gun or fishing rod and fewer grew up doing such activities casually.
Catch & Release is Illegal in Germany
As someone who enjoys fly fishing and often would combine that with climbing, I sorely miss the ease with which I could fish and hunt in the US. Eventually I hope to get one or both over her but for now am confined to a frenzy of both when visiting the US.
Fishing and hunting licenses are not something you drop 10 or 20 dollars on at Walmart, or online. Oh no, they require two week long, 40 hour and 2,000 EUR courses just to prepare for your the national test (Angleschein / Jagdschein) after which you still must get local licenses for the areas you will fish or hunt and pay a fortune for gear.
And seven specific methods of each are verboten! Bow hunting is illegal due to hits history of being associated with poaching and perceived higher probability of wounding instead of killing. Catch and Release is also verboten as one cannot go fishing without the intention to kill and eat a fish.
You can find more information on hunting and fishing at their respective national associations (in German):