Fish Amnesty Day
written by Ashley of BiologyArt
Fish Amnesty day was initiated by PETA over a decade ago to spread awareness of the suffering of our aquatic friends. Regardless of your opinion of PETA, the message is valid, and often overlooked. Fish and other sea life (crabs, lobsters, etc) are commonly the last creatures people consider when deciding if their dinner aligns with their ethical stance on animal cruelty.
Fish, despite that they may not be furry and cuddly, are equally deserving of consideration. They have a central nervous system that functions much like ours – with nerves just as sensitive. Fish do feel pain, and suffer horribly, as the either slowly suffocate or are butchered while still fully conscious. While they are unable to scream, they exhibit signs of distress by flopping and attempting to escape – the only thing they can do when out of water. Fish caught in the deep oceans also supper from decompression when they are raised to the shallows. While fish are not generally thought of as intelligent animals, intelligence has nothing to do with the capacity to feel pain. Pain is a biological necessity that ensures we avoid danger, and all animals are capable of suffering.
In addition to the pain caused directly to fish, eating seafood has other direct consequences for wildlife. Thousands of dolphins, turtles, and many species of sea and shore birds (in addition to non-target fish and shellfish species) are tangled in nets, caught on hooks, or brought aboard fishing vessels and tossed out dead as “by-catch.” Trawling the ocean floor destroys habitats and needlessly kills numerous non-target creatures in the process. Our oceans are being over-fished to a point that threatens ecosystems across the globe, affecting life far beyond a single species or a few locations.
Every living creature is entitled to compassion; be they cold and slimy or warm and fuzzy. A little garlic, dill, and lemon juice can turn a tofu “fillet” into something much healthier, tastier (and kinder!) than eating one of our aquatic friends.