Monday, December 22, 2008

A Plea to Give Up Fish

In his lively look back on his activist life, Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir, Dan Mathews, the senior vice president of PETA, describes a fishing trip he took in the ninth grade, just a few weeks after being bullied for being gay. He discovered, to his dismay, he had caught a flounder.

"'You've got a booby prize!' someone joked as he stomped the flailing fish to the deck and tore out the hook, causing blood to flow from the slimy creature's mouth to the beat of his racing heart. Everybody laughed, but I grew uneasy. I considered what the scene looked like from the flounder's point of view. Stunned, he looked up to see a collection of chuckling faces as he lay gasping for breath...I had become one of the terrorizing bullies I dreaded so much at school."

More than 17 billion fish are killed for food in the U.S. annually, and sport fishing and angling kills another 245 million animals per year, according to PETA's Fishing Hurts web site. Much like their farm animal counterparts, they have no legal protection from cruel treatment. They are impaled, crushed, suffocated, or sliced open and gutted...all while they're fully conscious.

For whatever reason, fish is the one flesh many vegetarians struggle to give up. Perhaps because there isn't as much graphic footage available of their horrible treatment. Or maybe because we've succumbed to the marketing of the industry touting it as a health food. But did you know seafood is the leading cause of food poisoning in the U.S.? So many of our waterways are polluted with human and animal feces, and this waste carries dangerous bacteria like E. coli, according to PETA.

Mercury is in the news as of late due to actor Jermey Pivens' bout with mercury poisoning due to a twice-a-day fish consumption lifestyle. PETA noted a study by the Environmental Protection Agency that revealed that women who ate fish just twice a week had blood mercury concentrations seven times higher than women who had not consumed fish in the prior month.

Meanwhile, commercial fishers have destroyed the ocean's ecosystem to the extent that large fish populations are just 10 percent of what they were in the 1950s.

Please consider shunning fish once and for all, for the health of your body and of our oceans, and for the long-suffering fish.

Learn more about the health, environmental, and moral impact of consuming fish by visiting PETA's Fishing Hurts web site.
Check out Dan's book, available at your local library, or through the PETA catalog.

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