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The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is proposing that fish be renamed “sea kittens,” suggesting that such a change will increase awareness of fish feelings and cause people to stop catching and eating fish.

According to PETA’s website, “People don't seem to like fish. They're slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads—which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you're swimming, and the big ones well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.

“Of course, if you look at it another way, what all this really means is that fish need to fire their PR guy—stat. Whoever was in charge of creating a positive image for fish needs to go right back to working on the Britney Spears account and leave our scaly little friends alone. You've done enough damage, buddy. We've got it from here. And we're going to start by retiring the old name for good. When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it's time for a serious image makeover. And who could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten?

“Ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop promoting sea kitten hunting.”

In an interview with National Public Radio, PETA’s campaign coordinator, Amanda Byrnes, says, “Fish not only have the same ability to feel pain as a dog or a cat, but they also communicate with one another. They have complex social interactions; they form bonds; they express affection by gently rubbing against one another … 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.”

In addition to pushing for the name change, PETA also is selling t-shirts using this theme for as much $25 and sweatshirts for $36.

KC's View:
PETA would love my kids, because I can’t get them to eat fish. Though I beg them to.

I think it is fair to say that PETA has completely taken leave of its senses.

This is, just to keep things in perspective, the same group that urged Ben & Jerry’s to start making its ice cream with human breast milk instead of cow’s milk because milking cows is inherently cruel. (Of course, I can't imagine that an un-milked cow would feel all that comfortable, but that’s apparently not important.)

To be clear here, I am not in favor of wanton cruelty to animals. Ever. I believe that fishing has to be done both responsibly and sustainably. (And I know a little bit about this, having just completed a video project about seafood that will be shown at next month’s CIES Food Safety Conference in Barcelona.)

But fish are food, preferably, in my view, blackened and very spicy. Kittens are not. (Historically, that’s probably because it is tough to get the fur out of your teeth. Though if the recession turns into a depression, kitten stew could become a real delicacy…)

There are some animal welfare issues out there that PETA could grapple with that would not reduce its credibility and image as a radical fringe organization. This isn’t one of them.