Animal Aid

The fishing industry: Greatest welfare scandal of our time?

Posted 20 March 2006

A new report on the fishing industry by national campaign group Animal Aid has identified ocean fishing as possibly 'the greatest welfare scandal of our time'.

Despite an official government advisory body acknowledging that there is a scientific consensus declaring that fish feel pain and stress, there are no welfare rules or even guidance determining how fish are caught and killed.

Fish are dragged to their deaths in nets the size of football pitches by huge industrial trawlers. As they are hauled up from the deep, they undergo excruciating decompression, which can rupture their swimbladder, pop out their eyes and push their guts out through their mouth.

Farmed fish fare little better with as many as 50,000 confined in crowded cages, swimming in water filthy with their own waste. They are killed by a variety of brutal methods, such as being clubbed, gassed or asphyxiated. Some are gutted alive. Others have their gills cut and bleed to death.

The new Animal Aid report brings together - in succinct, bullet-point style - for the first time, key data and observations about the environmental, human health and animal welfare dimensions of the fishmeat industry. Warnings related to the depletion of many ocean fish populations, as well as health concerns over farmed fish are coming faster and harder, but it is the plight of the fish themselves that, until now, has received little attention.

Says Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler:

'Our report demonstrates that the ocean and farmed fishing industries hurt the seas, pollute freshwater lochs, are nutritionally dubious and represent an animal welfare nightmare'

Notes to Editors

  • The fishing industry - the greatest welfare scandal of our time? report also deals with the contemporary health issue of omega-3 essential fatty acids and reveals that oily fish are not the only source. According to Professor Tom Sanders, head of the research division of nutritional sciences, Kings College London, vegetarians can easily meet their requirements for omega-3 fatty acids.
  • The fishing industry - the greatest welfare scandal of our time? is published on March 22. View the report.
  • For further information or to arrange an interview, please call Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
  • ISDN available for broadcast-quality interviews.

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