A five-foot-long wooden "Sacred Cod" has hung in the Massachusetts State House since the 1700s, but today, fishing fleets cannot catch enough cod to even meet shrinking quotas (NPR story).

The answer is not to switch to another type of fish, as some have suggested. The only sustainable solution is to stop eating fish altogether.

If you eat fish, it's next to impossible to know what -- or rather who -- is on your plate. According to a study by Oceana, fish is regularly mislabeled. Premium red snapper is almost never red snapper. "White tuna" is more often escolar, a species that has garnered the unforgettable nickname the "Ex-Lax fish." "Wild" salmon is often actually cheaper farmed Atlantic salmon.

But for the fish, none of this really matters. All fish can feel pain, whether they are cod or catfish, farmed or wild-caught, "sustainable" or not. When fish are dragged out of their ocean homes, their gills collapse, their eyes bulge out of their heads, and their swim bladders burst because of the sudden pressure change. Farmed fish are crammed into filthy enclosures, and many suffer from diseases and damaged fins.

U.N. officials say that everyone will have to go vegan eventually in order to alleviate hunger and the worst effects of climate change. Why wait? There are already so many delicious vegan products on the market that taste like chicken, beef, pork, cheese -- and even fish -- that many people are making the switch now.

PAULA MOORE

The PETA Foundation

501 Front St.

Norfolk, VA 23510

757-962-8312