A recent article in Hakai Magazine highlights multiple scientific studies that prove fish experience pain much like land animals.
The scientific community has been slow to accept that fish feel pain, but now the vast majority of biologists and veterinarians agree they do. Lynne Sneddon, a University of Liverpool biologist and an expert on fish pain, tells Hakai Magazine: “Back in 2003, when I gave talks, I would ask, ‘Who believes fish can feel pain?’ Just one or two hands would go up. Now you ask the room and pretty much everyone puts their hands up.”
Fish are similar to dogs, cats, and other animals in their experience of pain and pleasure. Ferris Jabr, the article’s author, writes:
Scientists agree that most, if not all, vertebrates (as well as some invertebrates) are conscious and that a cerebral cortex as swollen as our own is not a prerequisite for a subjective experience of the world. The planet contains a multitude of brains, dense and spongy, globular and elongated, as small as poppy seeds and as large as watermelons; different animal lineages have independently conjured similar mental abilities from very different neural machines. A mind does not have to be human to suffer.
Sadly, while mounting evidence proves that fish feel pain, they’re not granted any protections from cruelty. In fact, not a single law protects fish in the United States, whether they’re raised as pets, research subjects, or food.
What’s more, fish raised and killed for food are put through hell. Fish factory farms are filthy and overcrowded, making them perfect breeding grounds for parasites. Last year an outbreak of sea lice stretched from Scandinavia to Chile. Now nearly half of Scotland’s salmon farms are infested with the parasite, which feeds on blood, skin, and slime.
Fish farming is not only disgusting and dangerous but incredibly cruel. According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, salmon bred and raised at fish factory farms grow at such an accelerated rate that more than half of them go partially deaf. Another study has found that many farmed salmon suffer from severe depression. Known as “drop outs,” depressed salmon float lifelessly.
In 2011 Mercy For Animals conducted an undercover investigation at a fish slaughter facility and exposed fish being skinned alive. They thrashed and fought to escape the workers’ knives. As the fish gasped for oxygen, workers ripped off their skin with pliers.
Sounds horrifying, right? See for yourself.