For immediate release:
February 28, 2022
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382
Portland, Maine – After Representative Geneviève McDonald from Maine took to Twitter to slam PETA ads to Portland International Jetport who point out that fishing gear kills 300,000 whales and dolphins each year – an urgent message for New England, where the whale population is declining largely because animals become entangled in fishing gear – PETA sent him a letter this morning encouraging him to stop defending the fishing industry and promote Maine vegan the food industry instead. The state’s vegan restaurant scene is booming — Maine is said to rank third out of 50 states for vegan-friendliness.
“PETA’s jetport ads may have struck a chord, but it takes a lot more courage to stand up for the slaughter of whales and other marine 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 the lethal 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 PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, FacebookWhere instagram.
PETA’s letter to McDonald’s follows.
February 28, 2022
The Honorable Genevieve McDonald
Maine House of Representatives
Dear McDonald’s Representative:
I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals US – PETA entities have over 9 million members and supporters worldwide, including several thousand in Maine – in response to your criticism of our “Save the Whales” located in Portland International Airport. We ask you to consider the suffering that fish and other marine animals endure when they are slaughtered for food. Fishing causes pain and suffering to other sentient beings that you may not identify with, simply because they are not like us, but they certainly suffer a lot because of this industry.
Just as humans want to make a living, animals like lobsters and whales simply want to live. Fishing gear kills 300,000 whales and dolphins every year, and these animals are harshly called “bycatch,” a euphemism for non-target animals that are caught or entangled in fishing gear and then discarded or simply die. Death from fishing gear is the greatest threat to the survival of many of the world’s 86 cetacean species, and fish consumption contributes to the decimation of ocean ecosystems. More fish are killed each year for food – billions in US waters alone – than all other animals combined. Fish, which feel pain as intensely as mammals, 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 declined alarmingly by 30% over the past decade, against extinction. Estimates suggest that there are less than 350 of these whales left and less than 100 are breeding females. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, if we want the population to recover, we need to reduce human-caused deaths to less than one per year on average, 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 real number is probably higher.
Our previous offer is to retrain all Mainers who wish to leave the cruel and ugly fishing industry and pursue a non-violent activity such as photography or gardening.
We hope that instead of supporting this outdated industry, you will support your state’s vegan businesses. The vegan market is expected to grow 451% over the next 10 years, and it’s already thriving in Maine, which ranks third in the nation for prevalence of vegan options and availability of all-vegan restaurants. For every million people, Maine has 4.6 all-vegan restaurants. And the number of people going vegan has skyrocketed – there’s been a
300% increase in the US over the past 15 years, and more than half of all US households now purchase vegan food products.
If you haven’t seen it already, we recommend watching the revealing documentary Marine suction on Netflix, which exposes how the commercial fishing industry is harming all ocean life. In addition, we will send you a copy of What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe. Thanks for your consideration.