PETA to Rep. McDonald: Stop Supporting Whale-Killers, Back Vegan Businesses

For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2022

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Portland, Maine

After Rep. Genevieve McDonald of Maine took to Twitter to slam PETA ads at Portland International Jetport that point out that fishing gear kills 300,000 whales and dolphins every year—an urgent message for New England, where the whale population is declining in large part because the animals become entangled in fishing gear—PETA sent her a letter this morning encouraging her to stop defending the fishing industry and to promote Maine’s vegan food industry instead. The state’s vegan restaurant scene is booming—Maine reportedly ranks third out of all 50 states for vegan friendliness.

“PETA’s jetport ads may have struck a nerve, but it takes a lot more nerve to defend the killing of whales and other sea life,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is asking Rep. McDonald to open her heart and encourage her constituents to support Maine’s vegan businesses instead of its deadly ones.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to McDonald follows.

February 28, 2022

The Honorable Genevieve McDonald

Maine House of Representatives

Dear Rep. McDonald:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.S.—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including many thousands across Maine—in response to your criticism of our “Save the Whales” ads placed in the Portland International Jetport. We ask that you consider the suffering that fish and other marine animals endure when slaughtered for food. Fishing causes pain and suffering to other sentient beings you may not relate to—just because they don’t look like us—but they certainly do suffer greatly because of this industry.

Just as humans want to earn a living, animals such as lobsters and whales simply want to live. Fishing gear kills 300,000 whales and dolphins annually, and these animals are callously referred to as “bycatch,” a euphemism for nontarget animals who become caught or entangled in fishing gear and then are discarded or simply die. Death from fishing gear is the single biggest threat to the survival of many of the world’s 86 cetacean species, and eating fish contributes to the decimation of ocean ecosystems. More fish are killed for food each year—billions in U.S. waters alone—than all other animals combined. Fish, who feel pain as acutely as mammals do, have long-term memories, are savvy social learners, develop cultural traditions, and use tools.

As you know, Maine’s lobster industry has faced increased restrictions to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale, whose population has shrunk by an alarming 30% over the last decade, from going extinct. Estimates suggest that there are fewer than 350 of these whales left, and fewer than 100 are breeding females. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, if we want the population to recover, we must reduce human-caused deaths to an average of less than one per year, but the agency estimates that the number of observed deaths and serious injuries caused by entanglements with fishing gear at least five each year. The actual number is no doubt higher.

Our previous offer stands to retrain any Mainers who want to quit the cruel, ugly fishing business and pursue a nonviolent occupation such as photography or gardening.

We hope that instead of backing this outdated industry, you’ll support the vegan businesses in your state. The vegan market is expected to grow by 451% within the next 10 years, and it’s already thriving in Maine, which ranks third in the nation for the prevalence of vegan options and the availability of all-vegan restaurants. For every 1 million residents, Maine has 4.6 all-vegan restaurants. And the number of people going vegan has been skyrocketing—there’s been a

300% increase in the U.S. in the past 15 years, and more than half of all U.S. households now buy vegan food products.

If you haven’t already seen it, we recommend watching the eye-opening documentary Seaspiracy on Netflix, which exposes how the commercial fishing industry is harming all ocean life. In addition, we’ll be sending you a copy of What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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