July 29, 2006
Net closes on conger cuddling
LONDON -- An English fishing town has banned the sport of conger cuddling after an animal activist complained.
The tradition, once described as the most fun a person could have with a dead fish, involves one team trying to hit another with a conger eel tied to a rope.
It was popular in Lyme Regis on England's south coast and used as a fund-raising event for the local lifeboat.
But the sport has now been banned after an animal rights activist complained that it was "disrespectful" to dead fish and threatened to campaign against the event. Animal activists have a reputation for radical action in Britain.
"The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) were worried that it might show them up in a bad light," Rob Michael, chairman of the town's lifeboat guild, told Reuters on Saturday.
"In this day and age, and with health and safety, you have to be that little bit more careful. But some people are extremely upset."
Under the rules of conger cuddling, contestants stand on small wooden blocks as if they were skittles. Members of a second team then swing a dead conger eel attached to a piece of rope at the group in a bid to knock them off.
The team with the last person standing wins. Conger eels can grow to more than three metres (10 feet).