PETA & Chips or Should Aquariums Serve Their Exhibits Cousins As Food?

 This in itself strikes as total hypocrisy to an organisation that espouses the rights of animals and speaks for “all the fish in the sea” but then decided to kill other species in proxy of their rights.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is not adverse to running campaigns that do very little to further animal welfare or conservation. The most recent example can be found in a letter these self-publicists wrote to the U.K.'s National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.  The story was picked up by the Plymouth Herald and under the headline: "Plymouth's National Marine Aquarium Defends Decision to Serve Fish in Restaurants after Complaints from Animal-Rights Campaigners" the newspaper reported PETA's complaint regarding the ethics of fish being served to customers in the aquariums cafe.

PETA’s Dawn Carr's letter on behalf of “all the fish in the sea [sic] stated:
“The National Marine Aquarium advertises itself as a place where people can cultivate an understanding of and admiration for sea animals. Yet after inviting people to look on these glorious, fascinating animals in awe, it's odd that your café then invites people to stick a fork in them..."
Further it claimed that:
“... the seafood in your cafés is made from living sea animals who treasured life and were needlessly subjected to pain and fear..."
The aquarium rightly pointed out that all the fish served in their food outlets come from  recognised sustainable sources. 

It further stated:

“All fish and seafood served in the aquarium cafe is ethically sourced and MSC compliant...We have a robust purchasing policy in place that is proactive in sustainable and seasonal fish, ensuring we maintain the highest levels of sustainable fish sourcing practices possible.”
Dr David Gibson the aquarium's Managing Director further added that the aquarium aims to educate consumers on how best to source and eat fish and seafood responsibly.
“We’ve also spearheaded a number of initiatives, including helping Plymouth to win the world’s first Fish2fork Blue Fish award and our current campaign for Plymouth to become a Sustainable Fish City.”
So should aquariums not feed their customers fish?  Data collected in 2012 found that 2% of those surveys in the UK identified themselves as vegetarian with less than 1% reported following a vegan diet – a lifestyle that is promoted by PETA. (Source: The Vegetarian Society).

Ironically, some of those who identify themselves of vegetarian also admit eating fish as part of their diet. Further the number of people identifying as vegetarian seem to have declined slightly over recent years.

One interesting demographic from 2007 found that the highest number of vegetarians/vegans (
7%) were found to be 16-29 year old females. Now while many of these people have sincere beliefs in being vegetarian (for reasons of health or ethics as regards the rearing and killing of animals) it does not necessarily follow that they would support some of the extreme positions of groups such as PETA - for example their opposition to animals in aquariums and other zoological collections. Nonetheless, these are exactly the people PETA pursue as they believe they are more easy to indoctrinate to accept this groups own brand of animal rights ideology.

Going back to the above-cited data it is clear that vegetarianism in the UK is not representative of the general population with the majority consuming animal proteins (fish and/or meat) as part of their diet. Therefore, it would seem that there should be no issue in aquariums serving fish (or other animal protein) in their restaurants any more than it would be for them to offer vegetarian options so to be inclusive to all their customers.

Moreover (and as pointed out by the aquarium themselves) it would appear that an aquarium could be an obvious place to educate the public on fishing which would include issues of overfishing and the use of sustainable fishing techniques.

However, those who follow the behaviour of groups such as PETA are fully aware that this organisation really does not have any commitment to real animal welfare or conservation.

As an organisation they have been found guilty of annually killing large numbers of unwanted pet animals that could have been re-homed. This in itself strikes as total hypocrisy to an organisation that espouses the rights of animals and speaks for “all the fish in the sea” but then decides to kill other species in proxy of their rights. Moreover this is an organisation that has huge amounts of capital that could be used to re-house animals that have been abandoned but chooses not to do this.

One final point to ponder is that PETA admit they are absolutely against animals being displayed in aquariums and zoos. Yet when they wish to target aquarium visitors to further their vegan agenda they engage in a rather bizarre argument were the 'beauty and fascination' of the animals exhibited in the aquarium is of positive benefit.  Which seems to suggest they metaphorically want both their fish and eat it.