PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is a charity which operates worldwide. In its own words it “dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals.” The following statement, taken word-for-word from PETA’s website sets out what PETA aims to achieve:
“Like humans, animals are capable of suffering and have interests in leading their own lives; therefore, they are not ours to use – for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation or any other reason. PETA and our affiliates around the world educate policymakers and the public about cruelty to animals and promote an understanding of the right of all animals to be treated with respect.”
PETA gains a high media profile through hard-hitting campaigns and attention-grabbing tactics. For example recent years have seen PETA campaign to ban pigeon racing in Britain (due to the alleged number of pigeons which die during this activity) and horse racing (due to the supposed cruelty of this sport). However, PETA’s quest to ban things is often intentionally taken to ridiculous levels in order to attract attention. They have claimed that Warhammer – the manufacturer of little plastic models for science fiction themed table-top games – should stop producing models which wore fur. This is despite Warhammer not using any fur in its products as all of its products are made out of plastic. PETA claimed that they were aware that the characters depicted by Warhammer were both fictional and plastic but “draping them in what looks like a replica of a dead animal sends the message that wearing fur is acceptable.”
Many of these campaigns seem to have the primary purpose of creating media coverage for PETA and maintaining the high public profile of the organisation. Indeed, PETA sometimes go out of their way to be as attention-grabbing, controversial and offensive as possible – click here to see a list of PETA’s most controversial adverts [external link]. A wide range of celebrities have supported the organisation over the years, with the unlikely combination of Morrissey, Pamela Anderson, Natalie Portman, Paul McCartney, Dame Vera Lynn, Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, Roger Moore, Steve-O and Alicia Moore (better known as the singer Pink) all lending the power of celebrity which allows PETA to command public attention on a world-wide basis.
Having read this you will not be surprised to learn that PETA are no fans of fishing. Indeed, PETA have gone to great lengths to attempt to raise awareness of the perceived cruelty they claim is dealt out by people going fishing. PETA therefore campaign against angling and have launched a number of initiatives and campaigns which are designed to turn the general public against fishing and achieve their ultimate aim of having angling banned. Actions taken by PETA include:
- Running a campaign (presumably tongue in cheek) to have fish re-branded as ‘sea kittens’ to make the public more receptive to banning fishing. (Fishing would correspondingly be renamed ‘sea kitten hunting’).
- Produced (photoshopped) posters of dogs with fishing hooks in their mouths with the text reading: ‘If you wouldn’t do this to a dog, why do it to a fish?’
- In 2010 PETA arranged for two attractive young women to dress as “topless mermaids” in Nottingham’s Old Market Square holding signs reading ‘Fishing Hurts.’ Two other PETA activists handed out leaflets explaining how cruel angling was to the crowd that had gathered.
- Paid for a large billboard advert along the Great Northern Road in Aberdeen which portrayed the silhouette of a man holding a fishing rod in a phallic manner. The text of the advert read: ‘Are You Overcompensating for Something?’ The advert was put up to coincide with National Fishing month and Aberdeen was chosen due to its popularity as a fishing destination. There was also a bizarre website to go alongside this campaign.
- Created a billboard advert featuring an image of a large shark with a human leg protruding from its mouth. The accompanying text read: PAYBACK IS HELL, Go Vegan. PETA aimed to place the billboard on a beach in Florida in the area where a 21-year-old man was seriously injured in a shark attack. See the image which was on the billboard by clicking here.
- Proposed to place a banner reading ‘What’s that pong?: Fishing stinks, go vegan’ on the side of a disused toilet which overlooks the sea (and a popular fishing mark) in Sheringham, Norfolk. The local council rejected the idea.
- In 2011 PETA began a campaign called ‘Don’t Let Your Kids become Hookers’ aimed at stopping parents form encouraging their children to take up fishing.
Clearly PETA are dead set against fishing, and are happy to use all manner of crackpot attention grabbing tactics to make their point. They seem to direct all of their energy at recreational anglers and seem to only have a passing distain for commercial fishing operations which take the vast majority of fish from the sea. At the minute PETA’s campaigns seem to gain little traction and appear to be looked upon with confusion and bemusement by the public. However, anglers must remain vigilant of these campaigns, and always be ready to fight the corner of responsible sea anglers.