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Fish and Other Sea Animals Used for Food

Fish are smart, interesting animals with their own unique personalities, and just like dogs, cats, and humans, fish feel pain. Scientists who study pain are in complete agreement that the fish pain response is basically identical to the pain response system in mammals and birds.

Did you know that fish can also learn to avoid nets by watching other fish in their group and that they can recognize individual “shoal mates”? Some fish gather information by eavesdropping on others, and some—such as the South African fish who lay eggs on leaves so that they can carry them to a safe place—even use tools.

Sadly, the U.S. fish industry slaughters more than 6 billion fish each year, and sport fishing and angling kill another 245 million animals annually. Without any legal protection from cruel treatment, these intelligent, complex animals are impaled, crushed, suffocated, or sliced open and gutted, all while they’re fully conscious.

More than 40 percent of all the fish consumed each year are now raised on land- or ocean-based aquafarms. Land-based farms raise thousands of fish in ponds, pools, or concrete tanks. Ocean-based aquafarms are situated close to shorelines, and fish in these farms are confined to cramped net or mesh cages.

Fish on aquafarms spend their entire lives in crowded, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food. Fish who survive are starved before they are sent to slaughter in order to reduce waste contamination of the water during transport. Salmon, for example, are starved for 10 full days.

In the wild, hundreds of billions of fish—along with “nontarget” animals, including sharks, sea turtles, birds, seals, and whales—are caught each year in ocean-ravaging nets or dragged for hours on long-lines for the commercial fishing industry.

Whether the fish are raised on aquafarms, caught in the ocean by giant nets or long-lines, or hooked at the end of a fishing line, eating them supports cruelty to animals. Order PETA’s free vegetarian/vegan starter kit for great tips and recipes to help you make the transition to a fish-free vegan diet.

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