KOLOA, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Kauai resident, Anthony Wichman, recovers from nearly drowning during a dramatic fishing expedition last week, animal rights activists are taking issue with his lifestyle.
PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – sent a letter to Wichman asking that he stop fishing because of the pain they say it inflicts on the fish.
Last Friday, the 54-year-old Koloa resident made national headlines when he caught a 230 lb. ahi that capsized his boat as he tried to reel it in. As his boat overturned, his leg was caught in the fishing line and he was dragged underwater. The Coast Guard found Wichman floating about 10 miles offshore, sitting on the hull of his partially-submerged vessel.
The fish did not get away, and with the help of Wichman's friends, it was reeled in and towed back to shore.
Now in a letter dated July 23, Dan Mathews, Senior Vice President of PETA, is asking Wichman to give up fishing for good.
"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," Mathews wrote.
"With all due respect, I ask you to do some soul-searching and abandon fishing for good," the letter continued. "As this tuna demonstrated, fish, like other animals, value their lives and don't want to be killed."
PETA's president, Ingrid Newkirk, also issued a statement urging Wichman to become a vegan:
Mr. Wichman survived the terrifying ordeal of being caught on a line, pulled out of his natural environment, and deprived of oxygen—so we're hoping he'll now think of what all the fish, including his most recent victim, go through and not want to inflict that pain and fear on them. PETA hopes he will make the compassionate decision to go vegan, and we're willing to help him.
PETA has reportedly added a "vegan starter kit", which includes recipes for faux-fish dishes, in its letter to Wichman.
Read the full letter from PETA here.
Related story & video: Coast Guard rescues man after ahi capsizes boat