A British animal protection outfit PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has begun an electronic billboard campaign showing a smiling butcher holding up a dead cat then the image changes to show the butcher holding up a fish. The message over this asserts that eating a fish is no different in principle than eating a cat. A PETA representative was quoted saying “fish are animals with feelings who can experience pain and have a will to live.

Putting aside the common misuse of “ethical” in this outfit’s name, ethics being personal judgements, PETA’s logic cannot be disputed. It’s why I abandoned fly-fishing. “Isn’t it putting up a great fight?”, spectators will say, admiringly watching a trout, or with saltwater fishing, a marlin, leaping and diving, trying to throw the hook. Yes. It certainly is. Its life is at stake for God’s sake and thus so-called angling should in my view be a legitimate matter for the SPCA to run a test prosecution. The fact that it is not specifically illegal would be no defence. For example, we occasionally read about farmers, legally growing animals for eventual human consumption, being prosecuted for cruelty, usually neglect.

So, PETA are right in principle. We do legally protect some species but much of this is simply sizeism, such as with elephants and whales. I make that point with a large billboard in Lambton Quay on one of my company’s buildings, bearing the message,

“Save the Krill

  Kill Whales”

But here’s what PETA overlooks. Most fish species survive by eating smaller species, ergo, banging ourselves in at the top of the food chain should raise no moral objections. It’s simply the law of the jungle; a reality of all life. Another point is young animals such as lambs and calves display in their gamboling behaviour evident joyous existences. But the only reason they exist is because we grow them to eat. Surely, a few months happiness and a quick demise is better than not existing at all.

I once survived for 3 days on roast cat mixed with a little rice. That was in 1973, snowbound high in the Andes with an amusing bunch of communist enthusiasts fleeing the overthrowal of Allende in Chile. Snowbound and unable to carry on in our bus, the husband-and-wife caretakers of an Alpine hotel, locked up for the winter, took us in. Not prepared for guests, they had little food and 3 times daily served us a little fried rice flavoured by strong red meat chunks. This they subsequently advised had been the hotel’s cats, kept for mouse control in the summer season. When we’d eaten them all we were obliged to push on and were eventually rescued by the Argentinian army.

In conclusion, PETA means well but should abandon their mission and concentrate on animal cruelty, particularly with farming in which it’s rife.


I remember once fishing with you and in those days I never thought in terms of fish feeling pain. However, time has moved on and yes I now understand that it was certainly an unfair practice despite returning most of the trout back to the river. I dont fish these days but still eat fish and agree the farming practice’s world wide do need to change. I owned a dairy farm for a few years and, in retrospect, can only liken that business to Auschwitz.

So a discussion without mentioning the core issue. Are animals sentient beings? Lot’s of books written about that. Read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation and move from there. Farming practices largely do not have to change but fools that abuse pretty well developed ethical welfare guidelines do!

I used to donate to PETA but stopped when it became clear their ethics were questionable (google “why Peta kills animals”) SRJ story of the Andes is interesting and I confess to some jealousy at the extent of your travels.
I wholly agree with the commentary around animal abuse. If just one single creature were found on a different planet we would all be staggered at it, but millions are treated terribly here every day. Dreadful.

Now living mostly in the Wairarapa my wife and I constantly despair at the lack of shade for stock in summer. Farmers too thick to plant trees. There’re virtually free. That alone should warrant prosecution.

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