This week (6th March), we took our recently launched Rethink Fish campaign to the European Parliament in Brussels. MEPs John Flack (ECR, UK) & Anja Hazekamp (GUE, Netherlands) hosted the roundtable event – ‘How to put Fish Welfare at the Heart of EU Aquaculture’ – which was attended by several other MEPs, scientists and NGO representatives.
Improving the lives of fish across the EU
Anja Hazekamp, MEP opened the meeting with an informed speech demonstrating her deep commitment to improving the lives of fish across the EU. Matt Mellen, our Rethink Fish Campaign Manager, then introduced attendees to the exciting new campaign. Attendees watched an inspiring short video about fish sentience, as well as footage of our recent undercover investigation which reveals the shocking welfare conditions many farmed fish are reared in and the inhumane slaughter methods fish are often subjected to throughout Europe.
The event continued with speakers focusing on the importance of humane slaughter, as well as the resources and technology available to ensure this.
Dr. Jeff Lines, of Silsoe Livestock Systems, said: “Humane slaughter of fish is possible, it can be done, and it can be attractive to business”. Dr. João L. Saraiva, from Fair Fish International, talked about labelling schemes for fish welfare and fish slaughter and Katerina Marinou, from Hellenic Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food, outlined how Greece is leading the way implementing humane slaughter practices of fish.
Keeping fish welfare on the agenda
A lively discussion followed and everyone present asserted their commitment to keep these issues on the agenda up to and beyond the imminent European elections.
Delicious fish-less canapés were served including a kelp caviar and smoked carrots which provided a tasty vegan alternative to salmon. The determination of people in the room to ensure that amazing fish species can continue to prosper in Europe was backed up with the realisation that plant-based alternatives are abundant, healthy and very satisfying.
An important step forward
John Flack, MEP and a Patron of the British Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, said: "Our compassion should not just be for the cute and cuddly. We know so much more than previous generations about the way fish experience pain and distress, and we have a responsibility to treat them decently and humanely.
“Today's event has raised awareness of the issues surrounding factory farmed and wild caught fish, and has outlined positive strides that can be taken to improve their welfare. It is one step forward on a long road."
Fish are intelligent, sensitive animals, capable of feeling immense pain, and they desperately need you to speak up on their behalf. Please, write to your Agricultural Minister, asking them to introduce national legislation protecting fish at their time of death.