PETA calls on fisherman to quit

A Kauai fisherman who was pulled under water by a huge tuna that capsized his boat received little sympathy from PETA.

The organization called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is even calling on Anthony Wichman to stop fishing because it’s cruel.

“As terrifying as it must have been for you to be nearly drowned by a 230-pound tuna, please consider how frightening and painful the experience must have been for the animal who was killed after a struggle that you initiated by punching a gaff through her back and then her eye while she began to suffocate after having been pulled out of the water,” wrote Dan Mathews, PETA senior vice president

“With all due respect, I ask you to do some soul-searching and abandon fishing for good.”

The 54-year-old Koloa man declined to talk about the incident Thursday.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Wichman hooked the ahi that subsequently capsized his 14-foot Livingston boat about 10 miles southwest of Port Allen about 7:30 a.m. last Friday.

When his boat capsized, his leg was caught in the fishing line and he was dragged underwater. After freeing himself, he was able to get on top of the hull and call his wife for help.

The Coast Guard rescued Wichman. Friends were able to reel in the ahi, right the vessel and tow it back to Port Allen.

The incident made national news.

This week, PETA sent a letter to Wichman, urging him to “to use your recent brush with death as an opportunity to put yourself in the place of the living being you were trying to kill and to consider the value of her life and others like her.”

In his letter, Mathews wrote that fish feel pain, just as dogs and cats.

“Impaling a fish through the mouth and then dragging him or her out of the water is the equivalent of someone driving a hook through your hand and yanking your entire body weight into the water, where you wouldn’t be able to breathe,” wrote Mathews, who added that he gave up fishing as a teenager.

PETA says it has more than three million members and supporters, “including thousands across Hawaii.”

A family member said Wichman is recovering from the traumatic situation that nearly claimed his life.

• Bill Buley, Editor-in-Chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com

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