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PETA Shark Attack Ad Targets Victim C.J. Wickersham With 'Payback Is Hell'

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PETA is at it again. Just days after a man on a spearfishing trip survived a shark attack near the Gulf of Mexico, PETA launched a controversial campaign portraying a shark chomping a man to death with the tagline "Payback Is Hell, Go Vegan."

"With the recent shark attack in the news, we thought that it was a good time to bring this discussion up that will hopefully save lives, both human and animals," PETA Campaign Manager Ashley Byrne told The Huffington Post.

The intent of the campaign? To make the point that the deadliest killers in the water aren't sharks -- they're humans.

"Sharks are not the most dangerous predators on Earth, we are. Americans alone kill billions of animals for food every year, including fish. And while sharks are natural carnivores, people can choose what they eat," said Byrne.

An average of five people per year are killed by sharks, but fishing fleets kill up to 70 million sharks per year, says an annual report by the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. "The sea is actually very forgiving, certainly from the standpoint of the animal life," said George Burgess, the University of Florida's Shark Attack File Director.

According to the International Shark Attack File, 623 unprovoked shark attacks have occurred in Florida since 1882, with only 11 fatalities.

The outdoor advertising campaign will be featured on billboards and benches near Anna Maria Island, according to a PETA press statement.

"Unlike these carnivorous animals, we have the choice to be kind every time we sit down to a meal and can choose a healthy vegan diet," said Byrne.

Ella Wickersham, the mother of the 21-year-old shark attack victim C.J. Wickersham told Fox News the campaign is "over the top," but she's turning her attention to the recovery of her son, who had 800 stitches in his left thigh.

"I'm not even going to dignify them with a response," she told FoxNews.com. "It's not even worth my response. They are over the top. If they don't want to eat meat and fish, good for them; you can do whatever you want, and I'll do what I want."

"We're very glad that Mr. Wichersham is going to be okay, we just hope that after this painful and frightening experience he'll consider what fish feel when they are impaled and suffocated to death," Byrne told HuffPost. She said PETA hopes he and other fisherman will take up another pastime.

The Associated Press reported last year on the Pew Environmental Group's unusual fish and shark conservation team consisting of shark attack survivors, fighting to end the practice of shark finning.

Because sharks are slow growing, late to mature and produce few young, they are unable to replenish their populations as quickly as they are caught. At present, some 30% of all shark species are threatened or nearly threatened with extinction.

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