The vegetarian oyster

Nick Joy cartoon and oyster image

By Nick Joy

A long time ago, we were trying to grow seaweed and sea urchins alongside our salmon. The approach had many highly technical names, but I like to call it integrated aquaculture. The problems were many, not least in regulation. In the end we failed because growing salmon is difficult enough for most people, but I am still very glad we tried.

In the process we attracted the attention of the press. We became inundated with calls from a large number of rather dim journalists. One such kept me on the phone for a long time, asking many rather silly questions. He was intrigued by what seaweed tasted like and in a weak moment I said it tastes like the sea or slightly like an oyster. When the article came out it said something like “is the world ready for a vegetarian oyster?” I didn’t really take much notice as it was hardly mind-blowing stuff.

Imagine my shock a few days later when the phone rang, and the person announced that it was “Peter”. My son is called Peter, so I was at least willing to listen for a second or two. It transpired that this call was from PETA, the malign group who claim to care about animals. I then received a lecture about calling seaweed a vegetarian oyster. I’d like to tell you that I can remember it word for word but I’m afraid it was such tripe I can’t remember what she said. The gist of it was that I was a bad person, and they might to decide to make our life difficult. I was not bothered, but if I had known how much money they raised yearly at that time, I might have been a little more nervous. I’m glad to say I would still do what I did, which was to send them packing with a flea in their ear.

Over the years I became more accustomed to seeing PETA annoying people. They hate farming, riding and even keeping pets. They assume that they have been elected judge jury and executioner, assuming moral superiority at all times.

I have kept an eye on PETA because I had a feeling that they were becoming greedy, but also because I felt that their rigidity would eventually bite them in the backside. Now they have been bitten and they have had a major funding collapse. The reason is that these animal-loving activists had dog pounds to take strays and other animals into care in order to rehouse them. There have been multiple cases reported of their activists taking pets from outside people’s homes, which were not strays. When people started to look into the pounds they discovered that PETA was euthanising 72% of the animals that were kept in its pounds. In fact the quote below shows how serious the situation has become.

The Washington Post reported that in 2015, PETA “…euthanized more than 80% of the animals in its care last year, a rate so shockingly high that Virginia lawmakers passed a bill [SB 1381] in February – nearly unanimously – to define a private animal shelter as a place where the primary mission is to find permanent homes for animals in this life, not send them on to the next.”

The massacre continues and just in case you think that this sort of kill rate is normal for a dog pound, the normal rate is between 10% and 20%. These passionate animal lovers are taking people’s money in order to lecture others whilst they kill the vast majority of the animals given to them to care for. The hypocrisy beggars belief.

Why is this relevant to fish farming? I feel it is an abject lesson in how we treat our critics. Our most vociferous critics, lecturing us on welfare, environment etc, come from a sport (so called) which catches fish, plays them till they are exhausted then releases them to die or be eaten by the nearest predator. Yet we and our government treat these people as if they have moral superiority. They don’t. Theirs is an industry which used to make money and because they didn’t manage it or invest in it, the quality slipped. They still don’t invest in it in any meaningful way and so the decline continues, with them blaming anyone and everyone else for it.

I cannot sit idly by and let the hypocrisy go on without calling it out. I see little difference between PETA and the wild salmonid lobby. PETA have got their comeuppance and I hope the wild bunch get theirs too.


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Fish Farmer magazine June 2024 cover

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