Mercy For Animals releases new short film documenting the scale of the growing “aquaculture” industry

Salmon display depression-like symptoms in a stressful environment

LOS ANGELES (March 31, 2023) — On Thursday, Mercy For Animals released a new documentary revealing the scale of modern industrial aquaculture. As the public becomes more aware of the sentience of farmed land animals and the importance of welfare standards for chickens, pigs, and cows, aquatic animals are largely excluded from the conversation, and this documentary aims to change that.

“As evidence mounts that fishes are sensitive and intelligent, taking a close look at how we treat the millions of them in industrial aquaculture is a matter of moral urgency,” said Luiza Schneider, global vice president of investigations, Mercy For Animals. “These aquatic animals suffer in myriad ways, from excruciating parasitic infections to what scientists have identified as depression-like states.”

Aquatic animals seem just as cognitively and emotionally sophisticated as those who live on land. Some, such as groupers, have been photographed approaching divers and being petted. Others, such as the bluestreak cleaner wrasse, have passed a classic test of self-awareness: recognizing themselves in mirrors. Yet these unique individuals are crowded by the thousands in tanks and cages, suffering physically and psychologically like land animals in factory farms. 

The film explores fishes’ thoughts and emotions and offers a rare birds-eye view of this disturbing industry:
— Salmon who have stopped eating or reacting normally to stimuli, which scientists believe reflects a depression-like state resulting from the fishes’ stressful environment.
— Tanks on land and cages in the ocean that all keep thousands of animals trapped for months.
— Species who pass the “mirror self-recognition test,” suggesting self-awareness.

Sadly, fishes aren’t granted any protection from cruelty. Not a single law protects these animals in the United States, whether they’re raised as companions, research subjects, or food. Each year, millions of fishes are raised and killed. Like other animals, they feel pain and suffer. While fishes suffer throughout their lives, their worst abuse comes when they are killed. Many of them are crushed by the combined weight of other fishes or have their fins torn. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to withdraw support from cruel aquaculture and industrial fishing. It’s as simple as choosing compassionate plant-based foods. The documentary is available at

Notes to Editors

Mercy For Animals is a leading international nonprofit working to end industrial animal agriculture by constructing a just and sustainable food system. Active in Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, and the United States, the organization has conducted more than 100 investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses, influenced more than 500 corporate policies, and helped pass historic legislation to ban cages for farmed animals. Join us at

For more information or to schedule an interview with Luiza Schneider, contact [email protected].