The capture experience of wild fish is typically violent and lasts for up to several hours.
In the wild capture fishery sector – an old and conservative sector – fish welfare is not on the agenda.
The various methods of capture all subject fish to injury or distress. Fish may be left to starve for days on the end of a long line or in a trap where they are vulnerable to attacks from predators, or be crushed to death in the pressure of a large commercial trawl net with thousands of other fish. Gill nets snare fish by the gills, and they are unable to free themselves.
Removing fish from their aquatic home subjects them to pain and suffering as their gills collapse preventing breathing, and their internal organs burst as a result of the dramatic change in pressure from rising to the surface.
Fish may be hit on the head to cause unconsciousness – sometimes multiple times, as revealed by Animal Equality’s exposé of the tuna industry – or have their gills sliced open and be left to bleed to death while still conscious. Most frequently, they are left to suffocate over a period of hours. If they survive this, they are often gutted alive.
Between 830,000,000,000 and 2,400,000,000,000 fish per year are wild-caught globally.
Fish killed for human consumption are so numerous and poorly documented that it is impossible to place an exact figure on the number of deaths.
Non-target animals such as other fish, marine mammals and other living creatures can be caught in vast numbers.
These animals are considered ‘bycatch’, with no commercial value, and are often simply cast back into the sea, dead or dying. Their living environments are destroyed, polluted and encroached upon not only by fishing but by shipping, extractive industries and increasingly, windmills at sea.
IN A YEAR, AS MANY AS
FISH ARE WILD-CAUGHT GLOBALLY
IN A 2018 SURVEY,
OF RESPONDENTS BELIEVED THAT FISH FEEL PAIN
OF SURVEY RESPONDENTS BELIEVED THAT FISH ARE SENTIENT
Eurogroup for Animals wants to see wild capture fishery policies include their first welfare objectives.
The most urgent changes needed are humane methods of stunning and killing wild caught fish immediately after landing; time limits for the duration of capture, and methods of landing that minimize time out of water and injuries; prohibition of the use of live fish as bait; modifying fishing gear and practices to reduce bycatch; a reduction in ghost fishing (abandoned, lost and discarded nets that continues to fish and trap animals); and banning gear such as gill nets or other methods that cause stress and injury.
We will continue to work with member organisations, supporting and facilitating their fish advocacy, and lobby for fish welfare to be included in future trade agreements.