The Flora-Bama Lounge, Package and Oyster Bar is gearing up for its 39th annual Mullet Toss on the Gulf Coast, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is hoping to change things up this year by using fake fish.

A mullet is a ray-finned fish that lives near shore in salt and fresh water. There is a high population of mullet along the Gulf Coast, and each year since 1985, folks have come to Flora-Bama to throw mullet from the Florida side of the beach to the Alabama side.

This year, PETA sent Flora-Bama co-owner John McInnis III a letter asking him to stop throwing real fish. PETA claims it offered to supply “realistic, reusable rubber” fish.

“By tossing fish corpses for fun, the participants of the morbid event, along with its organizers, disrespect other animals and rob them of their dignity,” PETA stated.

PETA said it also offered to cater Mullet Toss with vegan “fish” sandwiches.

State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) tweeted support for Flora-Bama.

“They walk amongst us,” he said. “I’m not sure if I’m more concerned that they think this is a good idea or that they think it will take us 4 minutes to read these two paragraphs. Press on Flora-Bama Lounge & Package.”

Other things PETA said could be thrown include fresh, biodegradable flowers, seaweed, beach toys and “oneself (Leaping safely into the water!)”

“Studies show that fish can recognize themselves in mirrors and photographs, are self-aware, and communicate with each other using complex sounds,” PETA continued. “Every fish whose body is treated like a hacky sack at the mullet toss is an individual who had a life precious to them, swam free, had feelings, and didn’t want to die.”

The game gets messy, but what’s left of the fish is donated to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

PETA’s letter to McInnis:

April 22, 2024

John McInnis III


The Flora-Bama Lounge, Package, & Oyster Bar

Dear Mr. McInnis:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including hundreds of thousands across Florida and Alabama—with a fintastic idea to modernize the Flora-Bama Mullet Toss: We would never be so frank as to suggest that only a lout throws a trout or only a sod throws a cod … but, well, there is, as you know, a certain yahoo stigma attached to this event, something we can cure. What if you make it all-inclusive—yup, even welcome vegans to enjoy the moment—by using fancy rubber fish instead of smelly, decomposing real ones? If you agree, we’ll donate reusable fake fish for you to hand out and cast a tray of tasty vegan fish sandwiches your way for you to sell or give to participants.

It’s no toss-up: Whether some people like to think about it or not, fish—like you, me, and all other animals—have distinct personalities and experience fear, pain, and affection. Studies show that fish can recognize themselves in mirrors and photographs, are self-aware, and communicate with each other using complex sounds. Let’s face it: Every fish thrown by a Flora-Bama Mullet Toss participant was an individual who suffered greatly and was violently slaughtered before being used in this disrespectful way.

We’re not here to confishcate the fun: Throwing a rubber or plastic fish, rather than a dead one, would be as fun, challenging, and enjoyable but also positive. A first-ever fish-friendly fling could even lure our mascot Freeda Fish to line up to get in on the act. Will you please mullet over?

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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