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PETA targets Aquarium of the Pacific over seafood promotion

October 7, 2009 |  8:18 am

Volunteer diver Dirk Burcham waves to Sofia Ferguson, 2, at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

News item: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sharply criticizes the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach for a promotion designed to help consumers make responsible choices when dining at area seafood restaurants.

A letter sent by PETA vice president Tracy Reimanto to aquarium president and CEO Jerry Schubel contained this quote: "Encouraging aquarium visitors to eat fish is like serving poodle burgers at a dog show."

Reaction: Poodle burgers sound disgusting. Seared albacore with fennel and arugula sounds wonderful. Perhaps PETA would be better served by focusing on real issues and go after, say, restaurants that serve shark-fin soup, which might thereby help to stop the brutal practice of finning --  the slicing of fins from live sharks at sea.

People are going to eat fish, and PETA cannot change that. So the Aquarium of the Pacific is to be commended, not criticized, for its "Seafood for the Future" program. It has partnered with more than a dozen restaurants so far. They've stamped their menus with logos next to seafood items that are harvested in a sustainable manner, or farmed in a way that does not harm the environment. Patrons who chose those items are rewarded with free passes to the aquarium.

Said Schubel to the Long Beach Press-Telegram: "The entire program is very consistent with our mission because we are committed to conserving wild stocks of fish. And one of the best ways to do that -- since seafood is so popular -- is to influence the choices that people make so that they will choose seafood wisely."

That mission is "to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants and ecosystems," and the photo atop this item is just one bit of evidence that the facility is fulfilling its mission.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Volunteer diver Dirk Burcham waves to Sofia Ferguson, 2, at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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