PETA Campaign Pitches Fish As Smart NEW YORK - Touting tofu chowder and vegetarian sushi as alternatives, animal-rights activists have launched a novel campaign arguing that fish — contrary to stereotype — are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat. Called the Fish Empathy Project, the campaign reflects a strategy shift by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial. "No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach. "Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them." The campaign is in its infancy and will face broad skepticism. Major groups such as the American Heart Association (news - web sites) recommend fish as part of a healthy diet; some academics say it is wrong to portray the intelligence and pain sensitivity of fish as comparable to mammals. "Fish are very complex organisms that do all sorts of fascinating things," said University of Wyoming neuroscientist James Rose. "But to suggest they know they what's happening to them and worry about it, that's just not the case."