Courtesy PieAre SquareYup, you heard me correctly: sea kittens...kittens of the sea. At least, that's the mental image PETA would like us to picture every time we sit down to a fish dinner. Sea kittens are the latest marketing campaign cooked up by those crazy (like a fox?) folks at PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
According to PETA's website, the youth-oriented campaign hopes to give fish a make-over that will make them sound more cute and cuddly than they are. "PETA thought that by renaming fish sea kittens, compassionate people who would never dream of hurting a dog or a cat might extend that sympathy to fish, or sea kittens," says PETA campaign coordinator Ashley Byrne.
Byrne added, "Most parents would never dream of spending a weekend torturing kittens for fun with their families, but hooking a sea kitten through the mouth and dragging her through the water is the same as hooking a kitten through the mouth and dragging her behind your car."
When you visit PETA's Save the Sea Kittens website, you’ll notice that it’s definitely geared towards families with young children. You can make your own sea kitten, a.k.a. dress up cartoon fish in ridiculous outfits, or read sea kitten bedtime stories, which are even more factually-bereft than normal children's stories - you don't believe me, but it's true!
Beyond the website, PETA has focused its efforts on schools. PETA members have sent letters to several high schools, including Spearfish High School in South Dakota and Whitefish High School in Montana, asking them to change their names to Sea Kitten High School. Just imagine the fear the Sea Kittens would strike into the heart of their opponents on the basketball court or the football field!
Speaking of fear, campaign coordinators are counting on it to discourage kids from eating "sea kitten" products. "Knowing that the fish sticks in the school cafeteria are really made out of tortured sea kittens makes most kids want to lose their lunch." Personally though, if my memory of the fish sticks in the school cafeteria is anything to go on, they were gag-inducing enough on their own without knowing how they’re made – tortured or not.
While the results of this campaign remain to be seen, it's generating a lot of press, from newspapers and press releases to confused and frustrated bloggers. Even the Colbert Report jumped on the bandwagon and you can watch what Stephen Colbert had to say about the campaign during Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger below. (The PETA segment is about 1 minute, 30 seconds into the clip.)
Courtesy bistromathgirlAs for me, I'm all for ending harmful fishing practices - the lesser known purpose of this campaign - but that's not going to stop me from having some tasty fish for dinner tomorrow! And somehow, I don't really think that my pet fish will have anything to say on the matter...
Check out these sites for more information on the campaign and its impact around the world: