The silent suffering of fish- a video series


The silent suffering of fish- a video series

17 July 2020
The silent suffering of fish cannot be measured. They experience pain and suffering that we cannot relate to. And this might be the reason why so little has been done so far to improve the situation for fish.

The publication of the Farm to Fork Strategy initiates a shift to a new food paradigm, with empowered consumers and a more animal-friendly legislative framework at EU-level. We now need to make sure that the suffering of fish will not be overlooked in this new paradigm and new legislative framework. 

Eurogroup for Animals has created a 5-part video series demonstrating the cruel practices that are standard on most fish farms across Europe. These videos prove that more needs to be done at EU-level to take fish welfare seriously. 

Changes to existing legislation and new legislation focusing on fish health and welfare in aquaculture production will have a massive impact on millions of farmed fish. 

Help us help fish. Spread the word about the suffering of fish and the fact that we have a chance to change this now. 

For questions, please contact Doug Waley and Jana Villwock.


First part: Collecting eggs. 

A cruel practice that involves regular handling of fish out of water. The newly adopted guidelines by the Platform for animal welfare outlines best practices for protecting the welfare and health of fish during these times. It is now up to the European countries and the industry to apply these guidelines.  See our article on these new guidelines for more information.

Second part: Transport. 

Either crowded in small containers, pumped or netted into containers, and packed at high density, fish have to endure many stressful situations during transport. See our response to the fitness check on the EU animal welfare legislation, including on transport, which calls for the scope to include fish-specific provisions and to stop harmful practices.  

Third part: Life on the farm.

Farmed fish spend their entire lives in cramped cages, tanks or ponds, with poor water quality, often suffering from parasites and diseases. With the European Commission currently updating and reviewing its strategic framework and objectives for EU aquaculture for the period of 2021 to 2030, citizens and organisations now have the chance to voice their concerns and to participate in the consultation to raise EU standards for fish welfare. See our briefing on the consultation here.

Fourth part: Off to the market.

Starved, crushed and often suffocated, farmed fish are transported sometimes for days to a slaughter and processing facility - a standard practise, even though we know fish feel pain, fear, stress. This is why it is crucial that until 27 October, citizens and organisations use the opportunity to speak up on fish welfare in the consultation on the EU guidelines for the sustainable development of aquaculture.

Fifth part: The Kill

The fifth and final part of our video series uncovers the cruel practices used on fish farms across the EU to kill fish: While slaughter methods of fish vary, many processing sites choose unnecessarily cruel methods due to the common misconception that fish do not feel pain. Examples of these inhumane killing methods include suffocation on ice or binding fish by the gills - which is often justified as it is believed to improve the quality of the flesh - a common myth. Instead, fish should always be effectively stunned and then swiftly slaughtered, not only to improve the quality of flesh, but also to avoid any pain or suffering. 

On 15 and 16 October, the European Commission is inviting stakeholders to participate in the Farm to Fork conference and to help shape the EU's path towards sustainable food systems. We call on the Commission to put animal welfare, and especially the welfare of fish, at the top of their priorities list when realising the ambitions of the Farm to Fork and the Green Deal. Watch the conference here.

Spread the word. Help us help fish!