Fish are "brainy" in other respects too. According to recent studies, fish can count, tell time and recognize individuals--including individual humans. The assistant curator of the London Zoo's aquarium says that fish there know the difference between an aquarium worker (who might have food) and a visitor (who doesn't).
Fish also have complex social relationships and "talk" to one another underwater. They can use tools and learn by watching what other fish do. And they have impressive long-term memories: In one study, fish who had learned how to escape from a net in their tank could still remember how they did it 11 months later. That's like you or me remembering something from 40 years ago.
But, you say, fishing can help parents get their kids to go outside, away from the computer. So can hiking, biking and canoeing. When I went fishing with my dad as a kid, the actual fishing was always the least important--and least enjoyable--part of our trips. Children want to spend time with their parents, and there are certainly better ways to do that than inflicting pain on small, defenseless animals. Instead of participating in your state's free fishing day this year, why not get your kids hooked on compassion?
Paula Moore is a research specialist for The PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; http://www.PETA.org.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).