Eurogroup for Animals launches report on fish welfare in wild capture fisheries


Eurogroup for Animals launches report on fish welfare in wild capture fisheries

11 January 2021
Every year, somewhere around one trillion wild fish are captured, with a significant majority being killed for food. Even with this conservative estimate, this far outnumbers any animal farmed for food, and yet despite scientific evidence that fish are sentient - i.e. have the capacity to suffer fear, pain or distress as well as a sense of well-being - public concern and consumer awareness about fish and their welfare is far behind that of other farmed animals.

Today, Eurogroup for Animals publishes a groundbreaking report which sheds light on the various hazards faced by wild fish throughout the process of capture, through to handling and death, and proposes measures and strategies to reduce unnecessary suffering.

It is true that unlike farmed fish, wild fish enjoy a near-natural life. However, for wild-caught fish, the end of each life is commonly exceptionally stressful due to practices that would not be allowed in any kind of terrestrial animal production. During the capture process, fish are often chased to exhaustion, crushed, asphyxiated, injured due to interaction with fishing gear, eaten by predators while trapped, or subject to decompression injuries as they are brought to the surface. If they survive the capture process, they often die of asphyxia due to air exposure, or are killed without pre-slaughter stunning. By-catch (e.g. non-target species that are inadvertently caught) that are thrown back into the sea often have little chance of survival.

With more attention on welfare aspects of commercial fishing, it will be possible to introduce and enforce better practices, attempting to close the gap between the scientific consensus about the importance of fish welfare, consumer expectations about making welfare-based choices - made possible with more comprehensive labelling - and the reality for fish.

Read our full report:
Catching Up: Fish Welfare in Wild Capture Fisheries

Read our EU policy briefing and recommendations:
Handle with care: Lessen the suffering of the fish in EU wild capture fisheries