Group Points to the Hypocrisy of Serving Intelligent Aquatic Animals in Aquarium Café

For Immediate Release:
1 February 2012

Gold Coast, QLD – Serving fish at an aquarium is like serving “poodle burgers” at a dog show. That’s the message that was sent to Jeff Hughes, manager of Sea World, in a letter fired off this morning by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia asking that all fish dishes be removed from the menu. Despite the fact that fish are intelligent animals who feel pain and that part of Sea Worlds mission is to promote respect for marine animals, the Dockside Tavern serves the flesh of flake, calamari and shrimp and the Top Terrace Food Court serves a burger made from cod.

When they are dragged from the ocean’s depths, fish undergo excruciating decompression, which often causes their eyes to pop out of their sockets and pushes their stomachs out through their mouths. When they are tossed onto ships’ decks, many fish slowly suffocate or are crushed to death. Fish on fish farms spend their entire lives confined to cramped, filthy tanks before being violently killed and are often cut open while still alive. The journal Fish and Fisheries has cited more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence that prove that fish can use tools and have impressive long-term memories and sophisticated social structures.

Serving fish also places Sea Worlds customers at risk. None of us would dream of drinking water tainted by sewage, pesticides, heavy metals and other contaminants, yet we’ll unthinkingly eat fish who are pulled out of such a toxic brew. Fish absorb the chemicals that are in water and can pass them on to people who eat their flesh. Food Standards Australia found that 16 per cent of Australian farmed fish tested positive for the fungicide malachite green. The Victorian Government has issued warnings to reduce the consumption of fish and eels caught in Australian rivers because of contaminants.

“We’re calling on Sea World and the Dockside Tavern and the Top Terrace Food Court to get their act together”, says PETA Australia Director of Campaigns Jason Baker. “How can people take the aquarium’s supposed respect for fish seriously when they open their menus at the restaurants and choices of fish’s body parts are staring them in the face?”

PETA’s letter to Sea World is available upon request. For more information on how fish suffer before they’re killed for their flesh, please visit