PETA is gearing up to combat the upcoming September 22nd celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day with its “nonviolent” competitor, Fish Amnesty Day. In anticipation for the event, the so-called animal rights organization has called on the Boy Scouts of America to ditch its fishing badge.
“Fishing badges send impressionable young scouts the dangerous message that tormenting and killing sensitive sea animals will earn them a proverbial notch in their belts,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in an official press release. “This Fish Amnesty Day, PETA is calling on the Boy Scouts to award its members for eco- and animal-friendly accomplishments that make the planet a safer and cleaner place for everyone.”
The organization sent a letter to BSA CEO Michael B. Surbaugh asking for the following “modifications” to the current fishing badge:
Michael B. Surbaugh, CEO
Boy Scouts of America
Dear Mr. Surbaugh,
I’m writing as a former Boy Scout on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide in advance of Fish Amnesty Day—a nonviolent alternative to National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 22—in which everyone is encouraged to celebrate fish rather than maiming or killing them. We encourage you to recognize that fish are intelligent, sensitive animals with complex nervous systems*. **Please, will you discontinue fishing and fly-fishing badges and instead replace them with badges that don’t promote the exploitation or endangerment of animals, such as a trash-fishing badge or an edible-plant identification badge, which would support activities that can be enjoyed by all scouts, including those who don’t fish for ethical or environmental reasons?*
Every scout leader who supports fishing—which only teaches children to disrespect the environment and the animals who live in it—sends kids the dangerous message that it’s fun to torment and abuse animals. Fish are sentient beings with individual personalities who can recognize human faces, count, tell time, and retain memories, and they’re capable of feeling fear and pain—especially the pain of being hooked through their sensitive mouths, which have many nerve endings. And fish who are released after they’re hooked often die from their injuries and the loss of their protective outer coating. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reports that the “major cause of hooking mortality is [the] hooking injury itself,” as more than 60 percent of deeply hooked fish die after release and at least one out of three fish caught with bait dies after release. It should be no more acceptable to harm fish than it is to harm any other living, feeling beings.
Instead of fishing, you might consider encouraging a superior form of entertainment. “Trash fishing” is an eco-friendly activity that encourages scouts of all ages to spend quality time together helping animals and the planet by removing garbage from bodies of water that can potentially harm wildlife. Trash is a menace to animals: Whales, turtles, and seabirds often mistake it for food, and if eaten, it can choke them or cause fatal stomach or bowel obstructions. Birds frequently get their beaks wrapped or wings entangled in discarded fishing line, and hooks can be swallowed or become embedded in birds’ skin or beaks.
We believe that you have an opportunity to create a new modern, fun, educational, and fish-friendly badge that everyone would enjoy. We’ll be sending you a copy of Jonathan Balcombe’s fascinating book What a Fish Knows so that you can learn more about the intricate lives of fish. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Manager of Education Outreach
Mr. Montville’s grossly inaccurate portrayal of fishing is misleading. Does he understand the concept of catch-and-release? Does he understand that anglers are on the forefront of promoting clean waterways and improved public access, even more vigorously than environmentalists? Anglers are taught to ALWAYS respect the fish when handling them. Anglers, like hunters, are the best conservationists out there—who pay at minimum 60% (alongside hunters) of conservation funding through both Pittman-Robertson (hunting) and Dingell-Johnson (fishing) funds. And so what if an angler, who pays into the activity with licenses and gear, decides to keep a legal creel limit of fish to consume? Consuming freshly caught wild fish is good for your health.
PETA’s goal is to coerce Americans into the vegan lifestyle, which goes against free will that dominates the landscape here. With their bizarre campaigns and call-to-actions, PETA continues to demonstrate their eagerness to use extreme methods to get their points across by alienating most Americans in the process.
Americans of all stripes and backgrounds will continue to fish safely and responsibly, much to the chagrin of PETA. Tight lines, friends.