The Truth About Fish Used For Food
Did you know that fish can learn to avoid nets by watching other fish in their group, and that they can recognise individual “shoal mates”? Some fish gather information by eavesdropping on others, and some – such as the South African fish who lay eggs on leaves so that they can carry them to a safe place – even use tools.
Although fish appear to be different from those of us who live on land, they are bright, fascinating animals with unique personalities – and just like dogs, cats and humans, fish feel pain. Indeed, scientists have reached a consensus that the fish pain response is essentially the same as the pain response system in mammals and birds.
The commercial fishing industry slaughters billions of fish each year, and sport fishing and angling kill millions more annually. Without any legal protection from cruel treatment, these intelligent, complex animals are impaled, crushed, suffocated or cut open and gutted, all while they’re fully conscious.
Hundreds of billions of ocean fish – along with “nontarget” animals, including sharks, sea turtles, birds, seals and whales – are caught each year in sea-ravaging nets or dragged for hours on long-lines for the commercial fishing industry.
Fish consumed for food are also raised on aquafarms. Farmed fish spend their entire lives in crowded, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that many fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food. Fish who survive are commonly starved before they are sent to slaughter in order to reduce waste contamination of the water during transport. Salmon, for example, are starved for up to 10 full days.
Whether the fish are raised on aquafarms, caught in the ocean by giant nets or long-lines or hooked at the end of a fishing line, killing them involves cruelty to animals. Browse through PETA US’ free vegetarian/vegan starter kit for great tips and recipes to help you make the transition to a diet free of fish and other animals.