‘Sopranos’ actor calls on Brooklyn Bridge Park to halt fishing workshops

Actress Edie Falco penned a letter on behalf of PETA demanding that the semi-private corporation in charge of the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront green space halt its “Fishing Clinics.”
Taylor Jewell/AP

You try to get out, but they reel you back in!

An actor from the iconic HBO mob drama “Sopranos” demanded Brooklyn Bridge Park stop holding all-ages fishing workshops, saying they’re teaching kids to torture animals — for fun!

“Most children have a natural empathy for animals, and that kindness should be nurtured, not undermined by teaching kids that it’s okay to hook fish and yank them out of their natural environment for ‘fun,’” Edie Falco — a Brooklyn native who played Carmela, the wife of fictional New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano — wrote in a letter on behalf of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to the semi-private corporation in charge of the waterfront green space. “May I hear that you’ll make this year’s clinics the last?”

The park organization’s partner group in charge of programming, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, debuted the six workshops in May, where experts and marine biologists teach budding anglers young and old the basics of line fishing from Pier 5.

But the thespian said that the fish can suffer permanent damage or even die from being pulled out of their natural habitat by a hook through their mouths.

“Fish who are handled by humans can suffer from the loss of their protective scale coating, making them vulnerable to disease, and one study found that the injuries caused to their mouths after they’re hooked can impair their ability to eat,” Falco said. “Many fish who are caught and released later die from the injuries or stress.”

Instead, Brooklyn Bridge Park should teach kids about caring for the environment by “trash fishing,” a practice of fishing garbage out of the water that a father and son devised in Detroit, Michigan, which the animal rights activist group honored.

“PETA’s youth division gave a Hero to Animals Award to an 11-year-old boy and his father who fish for trash, not sea animals, out of the Detroit River,” she said. “‘Trash fishing’ could be an educational and helpful alternative to your clinics that would show children how to be good stewards of the environment.”

The corporation’s chief shot back at the actor-activist saying that the program’s expert fishers handle the marine life with care by using barbless hooks, which cause less damage to the animals before they are released back into the East River.

“I do not believe we teach kids to harm fish, we teach them to fish respectfully and responsibly,” said Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau.

Landau said that the animal rights activists had reached out to him last month with a letter, which he responded to, before they got the high-profile performer on board to vouch for their cause.

The honcho noted that catch-and-release fishing was a common practice in parks across the Five Boroughs, adding that the Conservancy’s program has been a success and that he would green light it if they ask to run it again next year.

“Over 500 kids have attended the workshop,” Landau said. “I can’t speak to whether the Conservancy is going to do it again, but we felt it was a positive and successful program and if the Conservancy did want to do it again, I would not deny them from doing that.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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