Fish - the forgotten farm animal
“But fish don’t feel pain” is still a common response when you talk to people about the welfare problems of fish farming. This simply is not true. Fish can suffer; they feel pain and experience fear and psychological stress. Nearly 52 million tonnes of farmed fish were produced in 2006. Yet the welfare of farmed fish is not being protected. They are the forgotten farm animal.
Extensive welfare issues
Farmed fish can suffer from injuries in particular to fins and skin, skeletal deformities, heart irregularities, high stocking densities, aggression, poor handling, crowding and the inability to perform natural behaviour, exposure to algal blooms and jelly fish, inhumane slaughter methods – and the list goes on.
The European Commission breaks their own rules
Compassion believes that no animal should suffer for food production, and in theory the European Union agrees. A European Council Directive states:
In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries [ ] policies, the Union and the Member States shall [ ] pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals.
Yet the European Commission has a new fisheries policy which makes almost no reference to the welfare of farmed fish. Compassion argues that the Commission has neglected to properly consider the welfare of farmed fish in its Common Fisheries Policy. Please help us prevent the Commission from breaking its own rules, by ignoring the welfare needs of fish.
What are Compassion doing?
Compassion are working hard to try to ensure farmed fish have their welfare protected. We are lobbying the European Commission hard on this issue to try to get farmed fish welfare brought up the agenda.
EU agrees method production/method of catch labelling of fishRecently we had a breakthrough: the EU has agreed method production/method of catch labelling of fish. The new rules will mean that labels must contain the gear type used to catch the fish, along with a clearer, more specific catch area.
Lobbying policy makersCompassion attend a Commission conference on fish farming in Spain, where we lobbied key policy makers
Complaint rejected by the European OmbudsmenIn early November 2012 Compassion submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsmen. Later that month, we learned that our complaint had been rejected by the European Ombudsmen. We will continue to push this point with the Commission. Read more about our complaint
What else can I do?
- Buy sustainably caught wild fish – look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo. If you do buy farmed fish, buy organic, particularly Soil Association organic or RSPCA Freedom Food. Find out more about food labelling here.
- Speak to the manager of your local supermarket to request they stock higher welfare farmed fish and more sustainable wild fish.
- Campaign with us for improved welfare for all farmed animals.
- Find out more about the welfare of farmed fish.