PETA out to take fish off the hook — and menu
Fish feel pain. So don't catch them. That's the message an animal-rights group will take to Seattle — one of the biggest fishing cities in America — on Tuesday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Fish feel pain. So don't catch them.
That's the message an animal-rights group will take to Seattle — one of the biggest fishing cities in America — on Tuesday.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) plans a protest at noon at Broad Street and Alaskan Way on the Elliott Bay waterfront. More than a dozen protesters promise to wave gruesome photos of hooked fish.
"Parents aren't thinking that when they go fishing they're sending their kids a dangerous message that it's fun to torment animals," said Hayden Hamilton, a PETA campaigner.
The group says fish are intelligent, sensitive animals that feel stress and pain when they are hooked or hauled up in nets.
"When fish are yanked from the water, they begin to suffocate," the group says on peta.org. "Their gills often collapse, and their swim bladders can rupture."
The group, which advocates a vegan diet, cites other reasons we shouldn't eat fish:
• Seafood is a common cause of food poisoning.
• By 2048, at the current rate of overfishing, no fish will be left.
• Nearly half of fish caught and released die within six days, according to an Oklahoma study.
Hamilton said everyone should "make a compassionate choice and leave fish in the water."
PETA's message may not go down well in a region where commercial fishing accounts for thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars.
And where folks love a good salmon bake.
A recent article in the journal Fish and Fisheries cited more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence, PETA says. Hamilton said fish communicate with each other and even use tools. One South African fish uses leaves to move its eggs, she said.
A researcher from the University of Washington's School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences deferred to Victoria Braithwaite, a behavioral biologist at Penn State University and author of "Do Fish Feel Pain?"
In a 2006 op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Braithwaite wrote that fish have pain receptors and are not as dimwitted as we think. In fact, she said, "many fish are remarkably clever."
But she wondered where we should draw the line.
"Crustacean welfare? Slug welfare? And if not fish, why birds? "
That, she confessed, is a real can of worms.
Jeff Hodson: 206-464-2109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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