The suffering of fish

Official figures for the number of fish killed each year are not available as fish deaths are only recorded by weight, but it runs into billions.

fishDragged out of the oceans in huge fishing nets, their eyes often pop out of their heads due to the change in pressure and they suffocate as they are crushed amongst millions of others. Tipped onto the decks of industrial trawlers, they are frequently gutted alive. Nets the size of football pitches are indiscriminate in their catch: turtles, dolphins and other ‘non-target’ species are often caught up and killed or tossed over the side – injured and stressed and therefore likely to perish – back into the water. Large fish such as tuna are caught on drag lines and may be pulled for miles, being ripped to shreds in the process.

Fish feel pain

The suffering of fish is now well documented. Scientific reports have proven that they experience pain, fear and the natural instinct to survive, just as other animals do. The fact that fish may have led a ‘free range’ existence does not make their slaughter any more excusable or their deaths any less brutal and unnecessary.

Factory farmed fish

Industrial farms breed fish in huge sunken pens, like battery cages under water. The fish are unable to swim freely and thrash about in filthy water until their time comes to be killed. Disease runs rife in such cramped conditions and they have to be dosed with drugs to kill parasites and keep infection at bay. These diseases often spread to local wild fish, killing many.

Fish farms wreak havoc on the environment due to the amount of concentrated effluent that is discharged into the surrounding waters. Huge quantities of wild-caught fish are also fed to farmed fish – even herbivorous ones – further plundering the ocean and damaging the environment.


Aquatic animals have very little protection in law at the time of their slaughter. Killing methods for farmed fish are vicious – some are boiled alive, while others suffer asphyxiation or are bled to death without stunning. This would be considered completely unacceptable for any other kind of animal.

Most wild-caught fish are gutted whilst still alive or are left to suffocate. The whole commercial fishing process, totally ungoverned by humane protocols, let alone laws, could be the greatest animal welfare scandal of our time.


Crustaceans and cephalopods

Studies have shown that crustaceans (including lobsters, crabs and shrimp) as well as cephalopods (including squid and octopus) are just as capable of feeling pain and suffering as other animals.

Crabs, lobsters and prawns are often boiled alive or have their legs ripped off to be sold at markets. Female shrimp on commercial farms have one of their eyestalks sliced off with a razor to ensure they produce more eggs and spawn earlier. This practice has been described as ‘cruel’ and ‘traumatic’ by scientists.

Go Vegan

Killing an animal for food can never be regarded as humane. Animals’ lives are just as important to them as ours are to us and none go to the knife willingly. Choosing organic or free-range over factory farmed meat, milk or eggs, continues to cause pain and suffering. The only viable solution to end animal suffering is to adopt an animal-free diet. We can acquire all the nutrients we need from plant-based foods and with more supermarkets and high street shops stocking vegan food, it’s never been easier.

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