‘Trash Fishing Tournaments’, PETA Urges Bay Foundation

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For immediate release:
July 21, 2022

Contact:
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Annapolis, Maryland – This morning PETA sent a letter to Chesapeake Bay Foundation President and CEO Hilary Harp Falk urging her to cancel Maryland’s upcoming ‘Rod and Reef Slam: Angling for Oyster Restoration’ fishing tournaments and Virginia and replacing them with events that benefit animals and the environment, like “trash fishing.” The bay is flooded with trash, including plastic debris that harms animals and is pollutants, and participants in this popular pastime pick up trash and dangerous discarded fishing lines, floats and hooks, which, according to wildlife rehabilitators, are among the greatest threats to aquatic life. and spare the fishes the immense pain of being speared through their mouths and kicked out of their home.

PETA notes that studies have shown that fish caught and then released, such as in the catch-and-release fishing promoted by scheduled tournaments, can experience severe physiological stress and often die of shock.

“To save the bay is to allow all its inhabitants to live in peace,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA suggests urgently replacing cruel torment-of-fish tournaments with humane and environmentally friendly trash-fishing competitions.”

PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals do not belong to us to be used for entertainment or abuse in any other way” — opposes speciesism, a human supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, FacebookWhere instagram.

PETA’s letter to Falk and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation follows.

July 21, 2022

Hilary Harp Falk

President and CEO

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Dear Mrs. Falk:

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals US – PETA entities have over 9 million members and supporters worldwide and over 230,000 in Maryland and Virginia – in response to complaints we have received regarding your Virginia and Maryland Rod & Reef Slam fishing tournaments. We respectfully request that you cancel these harmful tournaments, as they contradict your stated purpose to “speak for the fish”, and replace them with events that celebrate the fish in a way that does not maim or kill them, such as “trash fishing” competitions. These would allow the fish to thrive while helping start working on pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, including abandoned fishing nets and monofilament line, the most common and harmful form of debris affecting aquatic animals. Allow me to elaborate.

Fishing does not respect the environment and the animals that live there and sends the dangerous message that it is fun to kill vulnerable people. Whether people like to think about it or not, fish are sentient beings capable of experiencing fear and pain, including the pain of fish hooks piercing their sensitive mouth, which has many nerve endings. It is no more acceptable to harm fish than to harm any other living, sentient being. You may be aware that fish that are released after being hooked often die from their injuries, and at least one in three fish that are caught and released back into the water experience such severe psychological distress that they die of shock.

Every year, anglers around the world leave behind a trail of victims including turtles, birds and other animals who sustain debilitating injuries after swallowing hooks or becoming entangled in fishing line. Already this year, a record 58 sea turtles have been captured in the lower Chesapeake Bay and nearby ocean waters, according to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Additionally, recent research estimates that recreational anglers are responsible for catching nearly one million tonnes of fish each year, which has long been known to contribute to declining fish populations and biodiversity.

We hope that your conservation work will notably allow fish and other marine species to live by canceling these fishing tournaments. Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Ingrid Newkirk

President

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