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Activist floats idea of memorial for fish killed in Irvine crash

October 30, 2012 |  7:40 am
Fish memorial sign

An animal rights activist wants a memorial erected on a street corner where 1,600 pounds of live fish died in a three-vehicle crash, but an Irvine official says there are no plans to put up such a sign.

Dina Kourda, a volunteer with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote to the Irvine Public Works Department to request that a sign be placed at the intersection of Walnut and Yale avenues to honor the lives of the fish -- believed to be saltwater bass -- lost in the accident.

The fish, the Orange County Register reported, were being hauled to a Ranch 99 Market, an Asian supermarket. The fish had been stored in large tanks that cracked open as a result of the Oct. 11 accident.

When firefighters opened the back of the truck, some fish flopped out, and others had already died. None of the people involved in the accident were seriously injured.

“Although such signs are traditionally reserved for human fatalities, I hope you’ll make an exception because of the enormous suffering involved in this case, in order to remind drivers that all animals -– whether they’re humans, basset hounds or bass -- value their lives and feel pain,” Kourda wrote.

Ashley Byrne, a spokeswoman for PETA, said the organization had called for memorials for other types of animals such as cows and pigs before, but this was the first time the group has called for a fish remembrance. She said it’s appropriate.

“Hundreds of fish perished in this accident, suffocating slowly on the roadway,” she said.

In her letter, Kourda said that research shows that fish “use tools, tell time, sing and have impressive long-term memories and complex social structures …”

“The proposed sign would also remind tractor-trailer drivers of their responsibility to the thousands of animals who are hauled to their deaths every day,” Kourda wrote.

She wrote that the sign should be placed at the edge of the right-of-way, at a spot far from the road, as to prevent it from interfering with traffic.

Craig Reem, a spokesman for the city of Irvine, said he was not familiar with the city’s procedure for dealing with such a request.

“I do think it’s fair to say we have no plans to erect a memorial,” he said.

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-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Image: Proposed memorial for dead fish in Irvine. Credit: PETA

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