I’ve heard a lot of people recently say that ‘they don’t care about fish’ or ‘fish don’t have feelings’ and honestly, 7 years ago I used to be the same. Before I became even a vegetarian, I stopped eating meat but not fish as I used to think it was okay. I soon realised it was not and in this post, I’m going to tell you more about both farming fish and the wild fish we catch.
Fish are probably the most utilised animals on earth. They have very little legal protection and in the meat industry they’re either farmed in terrible conditions or caught from their natural habitat in very cruel ways.
In a year 3 trillion are killed worldwide.
Just like any other animals, fish are able to feel pain, pleasure and have many different emotions. You can read more on this here: It’s Official. Fish Feel Pain.
Half of the fish that humans eat is farmed. That’s 40 – 120 billion fish a year. In the intensive fish farms around the world, overcrowding is a major issue. In relation to salmon, they’re given around a bathtub of space each. Considering they’d usually have a whole lake, river or ocean this is miniscule.
The overcrowding itself can also lead to the fish becoming more susceptible to disease, many of them suffer stress, they become aggressive to one another and this can also lead to physical injuries.
Due to the poor water quality of many of these fish farms, this means the fish have less oxygen to breathe and live a life of very low quality.
Genetic engineering is used to accelerate growth and hormones may be injected into fish to change their reproductive behaviour. In some countries, fish farmers also add antibiotics to the fish’s food or water. The residues of these drugs have been found in fish sold for human consumption.
You can read more about this here: Aquafarming.
Many of the farmed fish have food withheld from them for around 2 weeks before they’re transported, graded or slaughtered. This is so their gut is empty. For a fish, they only need 2 – 3 days of no food for their gut to be emptied and this means the time period given by farmers leaves them starving, with very little energy to survive.
When it comes to farmed fishing being killed, ready for human consumption, they go through immense suffering. Many of them may be gassed with carbon dioxide. Others will have their gills cut without being stunned first. Some are simply left to suffocate on ice or in the air.
Some are even processed (Fish processing) whilst still alive.
For fish that live in their natural habitats, 1 – 3 trillion a year are caught. These will be either suffocated on the fishing boat or they’ll be killed by being gutted after they’re caught.
Scientists have said that if we continue to catch wild fish as we are now, by 2048 stocks of all species will have collapsed. Simply due to over fishing.
When catching wild fish, there’s also bycatch that takes place. 40% of the fish caught in the fishermen’s nets is unintentional. The bycatch simply gets thrown back into the oceans either dead or dying.
In a year, the following amounts of animals are caught as bycatch and subsequently will end up seriously harmed or dead;
- 300,000 marine mammals (this is the likes of dolphins or small whales)
- 160,000 albatross
- 300,000 seabirds
- 3,000,000 sharks
- 250,000 endangered loggerhead turtles and critically endangered leather-back turtles
This equals 38 million tonnes of bycatch a year.
The bycatch that’s caused, as well as the amount of fish that are taken out of our seas for human consumption is a real threat to our marine species. We’re not only taking their food and rocking their usual food chain – which will in turn cause many different species to become endangered. We’re also polluting the oceans with both dead fish and fishing equipment.
You can read more about bycatch and what the WWF are doing to help here: Bycatch.
Swap: Fish fillets Vs. Fishless fillets.
Birds Eye Large Battered Cod Fillets per 100g
Saturated fat: 1.2g
Gardein Golden Fishless Fillets per 100g
Saturated fat: 0.5g
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Love, always – B
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