Wayne Hsiung
Published on
January 14, 2016

To Save a Fish: US Fleets Locked Out!


by Wayne Hsiung

The Wall Street Journal reports that, due to a treaty dispute, US boats are being locked out of prime fishing waters in the Pacific. Apparently, worsening conditions for the fishing industry have made the US reluctant to pay the fees required by the Pacific nations that control the waters. The net result is that tens of millions of fish -- sentient beings just like our dogs and cats -- won't be subjected to horrendous suffering as they are pulled from their deep water homes. 

We've previously discussed on this site the historical neglect of non-mammalian species in the animal rights movement. Fish, in fact, are the most numerically targeted of all families of animal. And they endure horrendous abuse, whether captured in the wild or farmed in aquaculture. Just as one illustrative example, fish endure decompression (what scuba divers call "the bends") when they are abruptly and quickly pulled from the deep, due to nitrogen bubbles forming in their blood. The result is mass internal hemorrhaging and displacement of organs -- all while the fish also struggle desperately to breathe. Yet their plight is largely ignored. 

That's beginning to change because of the wonderful work of activists such as Mary Finelli of Fish Feel. Stories like Nemo's from the Pixar movie show the human capacity to empathize with even quite "alien" species when the victims are given a story and a face. Victories for fish have been few and far between, as ocean ecosystems are devastated by both extraction and climate devastation. Let's hope this small victory will be the first of many, as the animal rights movement grows across the world. 

UPDATE: Mary Finelli of Fish Feel offers these important thoughts:

Unfortunately, in this situation others may instead catch the tunas there. A U.S. tuna industry spokesperson claim the situation for tunas, whales, etc., will worsen if the U.S. tuna fleet stops fishing the Pacific: 

"American boat must stop fishing if operators see a whale within a mile of its nets on the chance that it could get tangled...the same standards are unlikely in Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese boats"

"American operators must provide documentation to the U.S. government showing that they are not overfishing the area, a practice he said probably was not always followed by other nations."

As long as any of them continue fishing there, and people continue eating tunas, the situation for these animals will remain terrible - until, perhaps, they become extinct.

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