Fishing Is Far From ‘Essential,’ PETA Reminds Governor

Killing Fish Promotes Violence—While Getting Hooked on Growing Food, Even Indoors, Is Useful, Safe, and Relaxing

For Immediate Release:
April 6, 2020

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Nashville, Tenn.

Today, PETA sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee pointing out that there’s nothing necessary about eating animals—so he should remove fishing from the list of “essential” services exempted from the state’s stay-at-home order.

“Painfully piercing the lips of animals, suffocating them, and gutting them is not only inessential but also insensitive,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is asking Governor Lee to encourage residents to protect their health, the environment, and even animals they haven’t thought much about by growing fruits and vegetables in their yards or window boxes.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee follows.

April 6, 2020

The Honorable Bill Lee

Governor of Tennessee

Dear Gov. Lee,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide in response to reports that fishing was listed as an essential service when you issued an executive order requiring Tennesseans to stay at home recently. May we now urge you to reconsider and remove fishing—which is surely not essential, given that eating animals is completely unnecessary—and instead encourage people to cultivate food through activities such as gardening, planting fruit trees, or making their own tempeh at home?

Whether people like to think about it or not, all fish are sentient beings who feel fear and pain—especially when hooked through their sensitive mouth, which has many nerve endings. As more information on fish pain receptivity has been in the news lately, it’s impossible to ignore that there’s something barbaric about actively hooking fish, suffocating them, and gutting them while they’re still alive. All this involves fear and torment for them—and even when they’re tossed back, most of them still die slowly and painfully from their injuries and stress.

Fishing doesn’t just hurt fish. Every year, anglers leave behind a trail of victims that includes millions of birds, turtles, and other animals who sustain debilitating injuries after swallowing fish hooks or becoming entangled in fishing line. Derelict fishing gear left behind can damage marine habitats and entangle marine animals, leading to injury, illness, suffocation, starvation, and death.

Fishing is simply not an essential activity. You can get all the omega-3 fatty acids and protein you need from vegan sources without any of the mercury, PCBs, or other toxins routinely found in fish flesh. With foods like Gardein’s Golden Fishless Filets, Sophie’s Kitchen’s Vegan Lobster Mac and Cheese, and dozens of other delicious plant-based foods, anyone can still enjoy the dishes they love without the cruelty, toxins, and cholesterol.

Fishing is not a sport or “food cultivation”: It’s animal abuse. There is no reason we should deny fish humane treatment. Please encourage residents to protect their health, the environment, and animals during this time by cultivating fruits and vegetables in their gardens or by making their own protein-filled tempeh in their kitchens. I hope you’ll seriously consider our request. Thank you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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