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July 22, 2013

2 minutes read

Humane Fish?

Is there a humane way to slaughter a fish? It’s a fair enough question, but it’s not one we usually ask. Even people who are sensitive to animals often fail to consider the lives of sea animals. Why?

Given all that scientists have learned in recent years about fish’s robust pain systems and complex social interactions, the lack of concern doesn’t come from what we know objectively about fish themselves. We simply find it harder to empathize with sea animals than with mammals like primates, like cows or pigs. Unfortunately, this difficulty relating to fish has contributed to a bleak situation for the welfare of these animals and led to ecologically reckless fishing methods.

At present, there is no humane method to kill fish either aboard fishing boats or in the increasingly common aquaculture installations known as fish farms. Nor are there are any known methods of humanely catching fish or raising them in captivity without severely affecting their welfare. As consumers, we can be fairly certain that any fish we buy had a painful and, often, protracted death. As far as Farm Forward is aware, no existing producer even claims to be providing humanely raised or killed fish.

Consumers are often misled into thinking that eating fish and chicken instead of beef reduces the negative effects of meat consumption. But as far as animal suffering and the health of the largest ecosystems on earth—the oceans—are concerned, the opposite is true. Perhaps someday we can more meaningfully talk about fish welfare, but for now, for the sake of the oceans and the fish themselves, we recommend reducing or eliminating fish consumption.

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