In all the demonstrations I’ve been to, I’ve never been physically assaulted. But not even that stopped 12 women and men determined to save the lives of hundreds of fish during Fischertag, or Fishermen’s Day, an annual fishing competition in Germany. For centuries, as many as 40,000 people have flooded the small town of Memmingen to watch anglers crowd into a small creek and compete to snare the largest trout. The winner is heralded as the “Fisher King,” while the trout who earned him the title is nailed to a board. The rest of the fish are left to suffocate, and many are carved up alive.
This year, members of PETA Germany turned the cruel, archaic tradition on its head when they leapt into the creek holding signs that proclaimed, “Fishing Hurts,” and stood in the way of the would-be anglers. They were screamed at and insulted, doused with buckets of cold water, and spit upon. Since women have always been expressly forbidden from entering the creek on Fishermen’s Day, the female protesters were especially targeted, but they refused to back down, even when fuming anglers tried to beat and push the protesters out of the stream. Some of the animal advocates were injured, but they held their ground and saved the lives of countless fish.
Tradition is no excuse for cruelty, and this disgraceful event must go.