Shark-Fishing Ban Prompts PETA Pier Plea

Group Wants All Fishing Banned—Not Just Shark Fishing—to Protect All Swimmers, Including Beachgoers

For Immediate Release:
June 28, 2019

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Venice, Fla.

Today, PETA sent a letter to Venice Mayor John Holic applauding the newly passed ban on shark fishing from the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier and city beaches—and asking him to expand it to include all types of fishing.

PETA points out that all fish, not just sharks, feel pain and fear when they’re hooked through their sensitive mouths, suffocated, and gutted—sometimes while still alive—or thrown back to die slowly and painfully from their injuries and stress. Banning fishing would also help protect human swimmers, as the blood and smell of any bait in the water can attract sharks who are hunting nearby—and it would cut down on the amount of discarded fishing gear in the area, which can harm sharks, turtles, other wildlife, and human feet.

“Fish feel pain, and discarded fishing gear hurts humans, so we’re asking the mayor to keep all hookers off the pier,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is asking the city to extend its protection to all fish who make their home along Florida’s coastline.”

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 Holic follows.

June 28, 2019

The Honorable John Holic

Mayor of Venice

Dear Mayor Holic,

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including thousands across Florida, in support of the council’s decision to ban shark fishing from the Venice Municipal Pier when it reopens as well as from all city beaches. We applaud you and the Venice City Council. May we now urge you to consider banning all fishing from the pier and city beaches? This would protect other fish species as well as visitors to the beach, who might otherwise step on discarded or snagged tackle, and it would discourage sharks, who are drawn to the pier by bait put out for other fish. As George Burgess, director of the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File, put it, “Fishing off a beach where there are swimmers and surfers makes for a really bad mix.”

Whether people like to think about it or not, all fish (not just sharks) are sentient beings who feel fear and pain—especially when hooked through their sensitive mouths, which have 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.

When any bait is in the water, the blood and smell can attract sharks hunting nearby—and if a shark is impaled by a hook, even accidentally, and struggling to get free, any nearby swimmer or surfer is in harm’s way.

Wildlife rehabilitators report that abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear is one of the greatest threats to aquatic animals and constitutes about 10% of ocean litter—and of all the ocean hazards to humans, fishhook injuries are reportedly the most common.

I hope that in light of the dangers that angling poses to fish and to public safety and wildlife, you’ll seriously consider our request. Thank you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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