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EU to Rethink Fish legislation

News Section Icon Published 15/11/2019

This week, we launched our exhibition: Think you know fish? Think again, at the EU Parliament. The four-day long exhibition (11th - 14th November) aimed to raise awareness on fish sentience as well as underlining the lack of and urgent need for specific legislation on fish welfare and slaughter across the EU.

76354 © Compassion In World Farming

Think you know fish?

The striking exhibition included educational panels, entitled: Parallels, Perception, Pain, and Protection. These conveyed the amazing capabilities of fish, the suffering that they endure during slaughter, the huge number of fish that are slaughtered on an annual basis and the lack of legislation to protect fish. The final panel was a photo opportunity for MEPs to interact with.

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The opening event was hosted by MEPs Francisco Guerreiro, Tilly Metz, Sylwia Spurek, Pascal Durand, Martin Buschmann and Eleonora Evi, and was attended by MEPs, members of NGOs as well as other stakeholders.

Fish deserve to be protected

All nine MEPs who spoke at the exhibition’s opening, commented on the poor EU legislative status quo, and called for changes that will acknowledge and protect fish in aquaculture and slaughter. They also signed a letter addressed to the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH) highlighting the need for fish welfare legislation to protect fish across the EU.

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Francisco Guerreiro, MEP

“Fish are always forgotten when talking about the preservation and welfare of biodiversity”, said Francisco Guerreiro, MEP with Greens/EFA, Portugal. “Current EU legislation protecting fish is vague, insufficient and not enforced or sanctioned. Fish welfare needs to be properly regulated.”

Olga Kikou, our Head of Compassion, EU, added: “Fish deserve to have the same level of protection in law as any other animal. We are calling on the EU to better protect fish, as the current farm animal welfare legislation does not offer sufficient protection for these creatures.”

Why fish welfare matters

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows fish are sentient beings with intricate social lives. They have the ability to sense their surroundings and generate emotions and feelings. They also exhibit complex cognitive behaviours such as problem solving, cooperating and communicating – even across species. And they do feel pain; they have the physiology needed to detect pain and an emotional response to it.

Dr. Krzysztof Wojtas, our Head of Fish Policy, commented: “Fish are amazing animals. Some of them form hunting alliances, others use tools. All of them feel joy, fear and pain. Yet we don’t hear them cry or scream, so it’s easy for us to dismiss their torments.” 

Acceptance of fish sentience as well as better understanding and protecting their welfare needs are long overdue. It’s time to Rethink Fish.

Click here to read our latest report Why fish welfare matters.