‘Mermaid’ Amala Akkineni Stars in New PETA Ad: ‘Try to Relate to Who is on Your Plate’

For Immediate Release:
6 April 2011

Benazir Suraiya; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

Fishing Industry Destroys Sensitive Animals and the Planet, Shows Tollywood Star

Hyderabad – Amala Akkineni shimmers in an eye-catching new advertisement  for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India. In the ad, which depicts her dressed as a mermaid, relaxing against an ocean backdrop and surrounded by swimming fish, Akkineni asks people to put themselves in the fish’s place before putting fish flesh on their plates.

The wife of super star Nagarjuna and an ardent animal lover and supporter of PETA, Akkineni wants everyone to know how the fishing industry harms fish and other marine animals, the environment, and consumers.

“People can identify with mammals, who in some ways resemble them, but fish seem so other-worldly”, says PETA Campaign Coordinator Bhuvaneshwari Gupta. “In fact, scientists have determined that fish experience pain much as other animals do.”

Scientific studies confirm what marine biologists have been saying for years: Fish feel pain, just as all animals do. A recent issue of the US publication Fish and Fisheries cited more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence. The research papers show that fish have impressive long-term memories and sophisticated social structures. An Oxford University scientist published research proving that fish learn faster than dogs. University of Edinburgh biologist Culum Brown says, “In many areas, such as memory, [fish’s] cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including nonhuman primates”.

Dr Sylvia Earle, one of the world’s leading marine biologists, said, “I wouldn’t deliberately eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel. They’re so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they’re wounded”. And Dr Theresa Burt de Perera of Oxford University stated, “We’re now finding that [fish] are very capable of learning and remembering, and possess a range of cognitive skills that would surprise many people”. Some fish gather information by eavesdropping on others, and some – such as the South African fish who lay eggs on leaves so that they can carry them to a safe place – even use tools.

Not only is commercial fishing a cruel enterprise, it also devastates ecosystems. Bottom trawling is among the most damaging and unsustainable fishing practice in India. Bottom trawling involves dragging huge, heavy nets along the sea floor. The populations of deep-water life forms hauled up in the nets or crushed by the nets’ wheels can take decades to recover. According to recent studies, populations of many of the most popular fish have declined by as much as 90 per cent.

PETA’s firsthand investigation of fish farms revealed sick, parasite-infested fish who were forced to live in filthy water. Also, aquafarms squander resources: It can take approximately 2.5 kilograms of wild-caught fish to produce just 400 grams of farmed fish. The water the fish live in is teeming with fish faeces, antibiotic-laden fish feed and diseased fish carcasses.

The fish markets that PETA investigated were equally appalling. Mangur fish were kept alive in very little or no water and showed signs of laboured breathing as they struggled on trays. PETA’s investigator witnessed endangered species – including sharks and dolphins – being sold openly and observed widespread filth and unhygienic conditions in the markets, including grounds that were strewn with discarded flesh, which attracted flies and stray animals.

Finally, because fish flesh and fat can contain extremely high concentrations of chemical residues – as much as 9 million times that of the water in which they live – eating fish presents a serious health risk. In India, eating fish is a major cause of high mercury levels in women. According to Dr Ann Mathew of St Stephen’s Hospital in New Delhi, these high mercury concentrations can affect the development of a child even at the foetal stage. Alarming levels of mercury were found in 264 samples of popular fish (including rohu, bhola, tangra and bhetki), which were collected across West Bengal. People who eat fish also ingest polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Studies have shown that PCBs affect neurological development in offspring, sperm motility and foetal growth and can lead to lower IQ scores, slower reflexes, attention deficit disorder and reduced memory capacity.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.