Last month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was in the limelight once again, this time for their objection to the fishmongers at Pike Place Market.
Recognized as a legendary staple of Seattle culture and tourism, the fishmongers of the Pike Place Fish Market have been drawing in big crowds with their ever-so-popular fish toss for decades. Employees catch the attention of market-goers with a brief demonstration that sends local seafood soaring (to the delight of the tourists) as they transport fish orders. It’s no surprise that the PPFM is often asked to perform at corporate events; most recently, the American Veterinary Medical Association, who wanted to feature the guys in the opening ceremony of their July 10 convention in Seattle.
When PETA heard about the AVMA’s requested demonstration, they responded with some pretty bold opposition, comparing the event to a "dead kitten toss.”
Jeremy Ridgway, shipping manger for Pike Place Market, told JAVMA News that the fish toss is the fastest way to move them from the front of the market to the scales, and that he and other workers are not mutilating the fish.
With Seattle at the center of a fish-throwing controversy, I voyaged to Pike Place Market to see what the shoppers had to say.
Responses from shoppers at Pike Place Market:
•“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s part of Seattle; they’ve (fishmongers) been doing it as long as I can remember. It’s a staple of the market.” Chick, 58, Seattle, unemployed
•“A bit extreme on PETA’s part. I don’t see how it compares to a dead kitten toss in any way. I’ve worked for the Center for Whale Research, the Whale Museum and the Advocacy for Wildlife.” Eric, 45, Seattle, United States Postal Service employee
•“Anyone can throw a rubber fish; the real thing is an important distinction. However, they should leave it (the tossing) up to the professionals.” Vince, 24, Seattle, warehouse worker
•“Let the tradition go on!” Bert, 53, Sacramento, dental assistant
•“It’s not inhumane or degrading and shows no disrespect.” Dina, 25, Seattle, student
•“It’s how people associate Seattle. They’re (fishmongers) not trying to showcase dead animals.” Devon, 22, Chicago, student
•“I’m a fish tossing supporter!” Tom, 39, Seattle, barista
From what I gathered, people – both out of towners and locals – found PETA’s objection to be over-the-top. (In my opinion, the same can be said for the group's recent criticism of President Obama after he killed a pestering fly during an interview.) And with the fishmonger performance still scheduled to take place this Friday, it seems that the AVMA's opinion aligns with those of my interviewees.
Although the AVMA has announced that all fish used during the presentation will be eaten afterwards, many speculate that PETA may hold a demonstration (possibly with few local supporters by their side) of their own July 10. Stay tuned.