UPDATE, 3:07 p.m.:
This afternoon, the City of Eureka sent along the following response to PETA from Mayor Kim Bergel:
Dear Ms Newkirk:
I am writing in response to your letter dated September 18, 2023 regarding the request from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to replace the Fisherman’s Memorial statue at Woodley Island with a “Fintastic Fish Sculpture.”
Firstly, I would like to express our appreciation for your organization’s commitment to animal welfare and your advocacy for the ethical treatment of animals. It is essential to engage in conversations that promote the humane treatment of all living beings and foster a greater understanding of their wellbeing.
The Fisherman’s Memorial holds a significant historical and cultural value for our community. It pays tribute to the generations of fishermen who have contributed to the development of Eureka and the livelihood of its residents.
This memorial stands as a symbol of respect for their dedication and sacrifices. The involvement of the wives of the Fishermen’s Marketing Association in funding the memorial underscores the strong community ties and the deep appreciation for the contributions and sacrifices made by fishermen in the Eureka area. Replacing it would be seen as a disservice to the memory of those who have played a vital role in our city’s heritage.
The memorial is also not a City of Eureka asset and the City does not have authority to remove or change the statue. However, even if the City did have jurisdiction over the statue, I, as Mayor, who represent the residents of Eureka, would not want to proceed with the proposal to replace the Fisherman’s Memorial statue.
We understand and respect PETA’s concerns about the ethical treatment of fish, but it is important to note that the Fisherman’s Memorial does not promote cruelty or harm to fish or any other species. Instead, it serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by our local fishermen and the importance of responsible fishing practices.
Eureka is also committed to sustainability and the preservation of our natural resources. Our local fishermen are often at the forefront of sustainable fishing efforts, which align with PETA’s goal of promoting humane practices. We believe that collaboration between conservationists, fishermen, and organizations like PETA can lead to more responsible and compassionate approaches to fishing.
We would welcome the opportunity to work together on a location for your “Fintastic Fish Sculpture” or opportunities that promote the ethical treatment of animals, such as educational programs on sustainable fishing practices and wildlife conservation. By working together, we can find common ground and create positive change.
Once again, we appreciate your organization’s dedication to animal welfare and your concern for the well-being of fish. While the City does not support the proposed sculpture replacement, I hope that this decision does not deter our future collaboration on issues that are of mutual interest.
Thank you for understanding our position, and I look forward to engaging in productive discussions in the future.
Kim Bergel, Mayor
From PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals):
Thinking it’s high time Eureka celebrated Fish Amnesty Day, this Saturday, PETA sent a letter this morning to Eureka Mayor Kim Bergel urging her to take down the old-style statue “The Fisherman” at Woodley Island Marina and replace it with a fish-shaped sculpture made of discarded fishing gear. The group hopes the new, upcycled fish statue it would donate to the city would spark a “Eureka!” moment among locals and visitors to the area and help people recognize that the fishing industry inflicts pain on billions of aquatic animals every year, including all the unintended victims, like turtles, rays, and dolphins, euphemistically known as “bycatch.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—offers a list of delicious vegan fish options, such as Gardein’s f’sh filets, Sophie’s Kitchen’s Fish Fillets, and Good Catch Plant-Based Crab Cakes, as well as a free vegan starter kit. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
“Fish don’t deserve agonizing deaths any more than the millions of sharks, dolphins, turtles, porpoises, and even whales who get caught in abandoned fishing gear each year,” says PETA President and reformed angler Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is urging Mayor Bergel to upgrade Woodley Island’s statue to show fish as the remarkable individuals they are and inspire people to enjoy the outdoors in ways that don’t hurt animals—like keeping the water clean by ‘trash fishing.’”
Fish Amnesty Day was launched in 1997 to encourage kindness to fish, who are now known to feel pain as acutely as mammals do, have long-term memories and the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror, and communicate with each other using squeaks, squeals, and other low-frequency sounds that humans can hear only with special instruments. Despite their unique abilities, more fish are killed for food each year than all other animals combined. They’re impaled, crushed, suffocated, or cut open and gutted, all while conscious.
And here’s PETA’s letter to Eureka Mayor Kim Bergel:
September 18, 2023
The Honorable Kim Bergel
Mayor of Eureka
Dear Mayor Bergel:
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including many who are lucky enough to live in California—with a fintastic suggestion.
Times are changing, and just as whaling towns have reinvented what used to be an acceptable practice, fishing towns will soon follow their lead. As millions of Americans now refuse to support industries that slaughter billions of animals every year, devastate the environment—since fishing gear is a top polluter of the ocean and the leading cause of “accidental” deaths of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and turtles—and wreak havoc on our health, we hope you’ll take this opportunaty to get ahead of history by removing the “Fisherman” statue, which glorifies the cruel and environmentally deadly fishing industry, from the Woodley Island Marina. We’d be happy to donate a new sculpture to replace it—perhaps a fish made from discarded fishing gear, as shown here.
Studies show that fish are smart, sensitive beings who have distinct personalities, learn from one another, can recognize themselves in mirrors—the “gold standard” of animal intelligence—and have better memories than most humans for their age. They have individual personalities, talk to one another, and experience pleasure and pain, yet more of them are killed for food each year than all other animals combined. Commercial fishing also leaves behind a trail of additional victims—including turtles, birds, and other animals who sustain debilitating injuries after swallowing fishhooks or becoming entangled in fishing lines—and it threatens the delicate balance of the ocean’s ecosystems. A 2022 study determined that each year, enough fishing line is lost in the ocean to circle the Earth 18 times and that fishers lose over 25 million pots and traps and nearly 14 billion longline hooks, posing a huge threat to marine animals.
Eating fish and other animals is also harmful to human health. We can get everything we need from a healthy vegan diet—including omega-3 fatty acids and protein—without any of the mercury, PCBs, or other toxins found in fish flesh. With delicious vegan varieties of every type of “seafood,” people can enjoy all the familiar dishes they love without the cruelty, toxins, or cholesterol.
Your new statue could inspire people to shellabrate and protect marine life by going “trash fishing,” rather than promoting an industry that suffocates and slaughters animals. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Very truly yours,