Aquatic Agony: Fish Killed for Food

Did you know that fish learn to avoid predators by watching other fish and that they rely on their social network of “shoal” mates for information? Although fish appear to be different from those of us who live on land, they are bright, fascinating animals with unique personalities—and just like dogs, cats, and humans, fish feel pain. Researchers have determined that fish experience suffering and respond to pain in a strikingly similar way as mammals do.

Yet despite this, billions of fish die every year in nets and on hooks—some are destined for human consumption, many are tortured just for “sport,” and others are “nontarget” victims who are maimed or killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Reel Pain Behind ‘Sport’ Fishing

The psychological stress of being caught and released is immeasurable. Catch-and-release victims become easy prey after experiencing the shock of being torn out of their natural environment and subjected to trauma. They can become unable to swim away and unable to fend off nest raiders.

Hooked fish struggle because of fear and physical pain. Once they’re taken out of their home, they begin to suffocate. Their gills often collapse, and their swim bladders can rupture because of the sudden change in pressure.

Cruel Catch: The Commercial Fishing Industry

The commercial fishing industry uses enormous nets the size of football fields to catch fish. Kilometers-long nets stretch across the ocean, capturing everyone in their path including sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and others. Once hauled onto the decks of ships, these complex, intelligent animals are left to bleed or suffocate to death.

In Asia, millions of tons of fish are raised on aquafarms every year. Nearly 90 percent of the world’s fish raised for their flesh come from the Asia-Pacific region, and China is the world’s largest “fish farmer.” Farmed fish spend their entire miserable lives in crowded, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries.

Leave Fish off Your Plate

Whether fish are raised on aquafarms, caught in the ocean by giant nets, or hooked at the end of a fishing line, killing them involves cruelty to animals. You can help end this abuse by going vegan. For great tips, easy ingredient swaps, and free recipes to help you make the transition, take the vegan pledge. If you’re in the Philippines, order PETA’s free vegetarian/vegan starter kit today!