National Marine Aquarium Asked To Drop Fish From Menu


On the 19th Feb PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wrote to the Plymouth National Marine Aquarium calling on policy-makers to stop serving dead fish at in-house restaurants – a practice that contradicts the aquarium’s invitation to the public to appreciate the wonder of living fish.

I have long been aware of the pain and stress we put marine animals through when killing them for food, as well as the immense disregard for the fragile ecosystem that supports them. I know from personal experience the great work the Plymouth National Marine Aquarium does for marine research and public awareness of our oceans, but having a fish restaurant is sending confusing and mixed messages about conservation and animal welfare. Surely they should be leading the way into researching alternative food sources that can be equally financially beneficial as well as ethical.

If you are interested by the following article please write your own letter to Dr David Gibson, Managing Director, National Marine Aquarium or copy the one below and let him (and us) know your feelings. This topic will be opened up in our Forum Pages.

PETA – “Experts agree that fish are sensitive, interesting animals who feel pain and have complex social structures. No one – particularly a facility that is supposed to promote respect for sea life – needs to put them on the menu”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “The rise of so many delicious, readily available faux-fish dishes means visitors can enjoy a tasty meal without slaughtering animals.”

 Biologists have found that fish develop relationships with each other and grieve when their companions die. Some fish are capable of using tools, while others gather information by eavesdropping. These intelligent, sensitive animals are so good-natured that Dr Sylvia Earle, the world’s leading marine biologist, has said, “I wouldn’t deliberately eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel”. PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”, encourage all caring people to choose tasty vegan options.

Their letter reads:

Dr David Gibson, Managing Director, National Marine Aquarium

From:          Dawn Carr, PETA

10 February 2015

Dear Dr Gibson,

I’m writing from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK on behalf of all the fish in the sea to ask the National Marine Aquarium to end the sale of seafood in its cafés. The National Marine Aquarium advertises itself as a place where people can cultivate an understanding of and admiration for sea animals. Yet after inviting people to look on these glorious, fascinating animals in awe, it’s odd that your cafés then invite people to stick a fork in them. Serving fish in an aquarium is like serving monkey nuggets at a zoo.

Talk of “sustainable seafood” fails to consider the implications for individual fish, but the fact remains that the seafood in your cafés is made from living sea animals who treasured life and were needlessly subjected to pain and fear.

And human consumption of sea animals is the very cause of the catastrophic destruction of life in the Earth’s oceans. Fish farms introduce non-native animals into sensitive ecosystems, and commercial fishing ships “clear-cut” the ocean floor and inadvertently maim and kill billions of non-target marine animals, including porpoises and sea lions. By encouraging people to eat sea animals, you perpetuate the problem.

Although fish may not always express suffering in ways that humans can easily recognise, experts around the world agree that fish are sensitive, interesting animals who feel pain and have complex social structures. In fact, a 2014 study from the University of Cambridge showed that fish have good memories, work collaboratively to achieve goals and have cognitive abilities that can actually surpass those of dogs and some primates. Leading marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle said, “You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they’re wounded”.

She has also said, “I used to eat all kinds of seafood, but I know too much now. Both about how I value them alive and as individual components of what makes the world work. I’d much rather see grouper swimming in the ocean than swimming in butter with lemon slices”.

I do hope you’ll agree with her and instead consider offering your visitors animalfriendly seafood options, such as fish-free fish fingers, faux-fish cakes and even vegetarian prawns. These options are delicious, environmentally friendly and free of the toxins and cholesterol found in fish flesh and – most importantly – no one has to die for them!

Please let us know that you’ve made the responsible decision to stop serving marine animals in the National Marine Aquarium’s cafés. I can be reached at or on 020 7837 6327, extension 226. Thank you for your consideration.

Kind regards,

Dawn Carr


Special Projects 

The Plymouth Herald published a reply from the Aquarium in which Dr Gibson says:

“We work to educate consumers and our visitors on the importance of eating fish and seafood that has been sourced in a sustainable way, to help nurture a sympathetic understanding of our oceans.

“All fish and seafood served in the aquarium cafe is ethically sourced and MSC compliant.

“We have a robust purchasing policy in place that is proactive in sustainable and seasonal fish, ensuring we maintain the highest levels of sustainable fish sourcing practices possible.”

Dr Gibson said the aquarium aims to educate consumers on how best to source and eat fish and seafood responsibly.

He added: “We’ve also spearheaded a number of initiatives, including helping Plymouth to win the world’s first Fish2fork Blue Fish award and our current campaign for Plymouth to become a Sustainable Fish City.”

This statement from Dr Gibson is of a type I have heard many times before and in my opinion it simply tries to justifiey and rationalise the insidious demise of our seas.

What do you think? Head over to the Scubaverse Forums to let us know.

Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman is the Conservation editor and also the Underwater Videography Editor for Jeff is an award winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

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