What I did as an animalist today

Today I had the opportunity to attend the March for Aquatic Animals in the city of Melbourne. Speaking of aquatic animals, I was lucky enough that since I took our daughters to their weekly Sunday morning swimming lessons last week, it wasn’t my turn this week and I was free to “do what I want”! And yes, I am exaggerating, but Essendon beat Hawthorn last night and I’m on top of the world (Australian Rules Football Reference).

It really was a lovely day in Melbourne, the sun was out but it wasn’t too hot or too muggy — although I should have put sunscreen on. I wasn’t, at first, one hundred percent sure I wanted to go. It’s the end of the term, which means you are as tired as it gets when you’re a teacher and I already donate to animal charities (see Animal Charity Evaluators to check out the best ones to give to) and do my bit here and there, you know. Nothing to do with my new addiction to Elder Scrolls Online. A video game. Apparently, I’m a gamer, but if you spend time every day playing poker on your phone, it’s different, right? ;)

And I didn’t have to take the girls to their swimming lesson! I know, I already mentioned it but I frankly believe that it is the segue (not Segway) of the century when you want to talk about aquatic animals and I’m not prepared to let it rest. Plus, Peter Singer was going to be there! And the organiser is a friend and an amazing young man dedicated to learning about and helping others: Cedric. He’s also originally from France, which meant that we could speak French in the middle of the gathering and sound even cooler. Yeah?

So, off I go to the train station, getting off at Flinders and gathering with all the Sea Shepherd volunteers by the boat shed opposite Fed Square. Not so many participants as I arrived just on time — ridiculously on time in fact, at 11.30AM on the dot. Sometimes I try to pretend I am nonchalant and laid back but I’m the kind of person who’ll happily leave 4 (okay, 5) hours early to go catch a plane. I got to chat with the organiser and with a few friends from the effective altruism and the animal advocacy scene of Melbourne… and with my hero: Peter Singer. Turns out he barracks for Hawthorn! Another Australian Football reference as I support Essendon, the team who beat his last night. Finally something I got to disagree on with the man! …which he promptly turned into “I think we can both agree that we’d like to see both our teams play off again in the finals”. Yes.

The crowd grew in numbers as the inspirational speakers told us about how fish can suffer and how they are bred and killed in horribly high numbers. About how the idea we have that fish get to live their fish lives in the sea before getting killed swiftly is basically bullcrap — Commercially-caught wild fish suffer slow and distressing deaths in huge numbers, estimated at 1–3 trillion each year. Commercial fishing is therefore a major animal welfare issue. It is estimated that between 37 and 120 billion (ie 37,000,000,000 — 120,000,000,000) farmed fish were slaughtered for food globally in 2010. (http://fishcount.org.uk/fish-count-estimates#farmedestimate).

An astronomical number of fishes are literally factory farmed these days. Spending a miserable life in an overcrowded small space so people can enjoy chewing on their flesh. For cheap.

This march was friendly and laid back. No screaming, no silly business. The message was positive, and this matters greatly to me. We had the most beautiful signs depicting sentient aquatic animals. (I got the loveliest purple-ish octopus.) It was colourful and inviting. The message was that we should care and unite for the animals.

It was a pleasure to see a variety of advocates from different backgrounds. Some hard core militants of animal liberation (and yes, they are friendly too!), some who care a lot (and I mean a lot!) about their veganism and the definition of “vegan” (not my animal friendly cup of tea but I can appreciate it when they do good), Effective Altruists (love you and your rational analysis!), Animals Australia supporters, Sea Shepherd Crew and enthusiasts, Fin Free Melbourne representatives, Anonymous for the Voiceless and the ever present and pragmatic Animal Justice Party. Andy Meddick from the AJP was the DJ for the day. I am told they’re called MCs, not DJs. He was eloquent, passionate and reasonable. I know I’m voting 1-Animal Justice Party again next elections.

The day was a pleasant and overall poignant yet cheerful way to spend the early afternoon and I got to meet lovely folks and have a beer with Animals Australia and Effective Altruist folks before heading home. Oh and I ended up volunteering to be under the fish net for the last “happening”. This is when I knew I definitely should have put sunscreen on!

Now I feel good, energised and keen to do more.

Peter Singer at the march (photo by Love Bree Photography)
(photo by Love Bree Photography)
(photo by Love Bree Photography)
(photo by Love Bree Photography)
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The Animalist

The Animalist

A logical, friendly and pragmatic approach to animal advocacy.

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