Neb.: PETA has a beef with state fish

LINCOLN, Neb. An animal rights group has a beef with the state fish.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking Gov. Dave Heineman to declare the channel catfish, Nebraska's state fish, off limits to fishing.

PETA launched a campaign last year to ban fishing, arguing that it is a cruel thing to do and that fish are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat.

"We ought to protect channel catfish in a manner appropriate to a state symbol ensuring that they don't suffer needlessly at the hands of anglers," said the letter sent Friday and signed by Karin Robertson, who is identified as PETA's fish empathy project manager.

Heineman rejected the request. "Fishing is a time honored tradition in Nebraska, and I have no intention of modifying Nebraska's fishing guidelines," he said.

The channel catfish, a popular fish with distinctive barbels that look like whiskers, was named Nebraska's state fish in 1997 by then-Gov. Ben Nelson.