Fish Endure Extreme Crowding and Suffocation, New Investigation Reveals

A new undercover investigation by Italian animal advocacy group Essere Animali documents fish kept in crowded floating cages and left to die in pain. The investigation took place at various fish farms in Greece, which supply more than half of the sea bream and sea bass sold in Italy and ship to countries around the world, including the U.K. and the United States.


Greece’s Sagiada region is known for aquaculture. Also called aquafarming, aquaculture is the practice of breeding and raising fish in controlled environments. Like other forms of factory farming, aquafarming subjects animals to overcrowded conditions and denies them the ability to engage in many of their most basic natural behaviors.

According to Essere Animali, the Sagiada region has 26 fish farms along just over 11 miles of coastline. While the investigation video states that wild sea bass can migrate over 60 miles from the shore, the animals at these farms are trapped in floating cages that measure just a few square meters. This extreme confinement leaves fish with nothing to do but swim endlessly in small circles.


The investigator asked a worker how long some of the fish had been in the cages. “Since 2014,” the worker replied and went on to say that around 20 percent of the fish had died in that period.

While these fish suffer throughout their lives, their worst abuse comes at the end, when they are killed. In the video, sea bass and sea bream are hauled out of the water in crowded nets. Many of the fish are crushed by the combined weight of other fish or have their fins torn.


Without being stunned, the fish are dumped into buckets of ice water, writhing in agony as they slowly suffocate and die. Ultimately, the dead fish are shipped to restaurants and grocery stores around the world.


Each year, millions of fish are raised and killed this way. Like other animals, fish can feel pain and suffer. In 2018, an article in Hakai Magazine highlighted multiple scientific studies proving that fish experience pain much like land animals, concluding, “The vast majority of the trillions of fish slaughtered annually are killed in ways that likely cause them immense pain.”

You can make a difference for fish and other animals by choosing more plant-based meals. Get started by ordering your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today. You can also help animals by sharing Mercy For Animals’ recent investigations—such as our investigations into live export and the California dairy industry—on social media!
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