Why Building a Compassionate Food System Must Include Fish Too

Fish are some of the most abused animals on the planet. They also have the fewest advocates and legal protections. That’s why Mercy For Animals is proud to support Respect for Fish Day.

Organized by animal protection group In Defense of Animals, the event seeks to raise awareness about the cruelty inflicted on fish and the need for widespread change to protect them.

Trillions of fish are mistreated and killed every year in the food industry, for sport, in the pet trade, and in laboratories. Although scientific evidence has conclusively demonstrated that fish are capable of feeling pain, fish are largely perceived as insentient and seldom covered by animal welfare legislation. Respect for Fish Day hopes to change this by making the general public and lawmakers realize that fish are deserving of the same compassion and protection granted to any other animal.
Like pigs, chickens, and cows, many fish are raised at factory farms, where they suffer in crowded, waste-filled pools. Conditions can be so horrible that many animals, severely stressed and depressed, essentially give up on life. Just this year, an undercover investigation by Italian animal advocacy group Essere Animali documented fish kept in crowded floating cages and left to die in pain.

Catching fish in the wild isn’t any better. Not only do we kill billions of fish for food every year; we kill countless other animals in the process. Because we’re emptying the oceans of fish, populations of animals who depend on these fish for survival are also in decline.

In 2018, video footage released by Mercy For Animals, SeaLegacy, Sharkwater, and Turtle Island Restoration Network revealed how marine animals—including dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds—are routinely trapped and killed in the commercial fishing industry’s driftnets.

Sadly, fish aren’t granted any protections from cruelty. Not a single law protects fish in the United States, whether they’re raised as pets, research subjects, or food.

Fortunately, it’s never been easier to withdraw our support from the cruel fishing industry and choose compassionate plant-based foods. For delicious recipes and easy meal ideas, get our FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today.