Prompted by a diver’s disturbing video that shows blood and guts from a British Columbian fish slaughterhouse pouring into waterways, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy conducted an audit revealing that a whopping 70 percent of fish slaughterhouses failed to comply with environmental regulations.
The many fish slaughterhouses operating under older regulations way below contemporary guidelines not only cause massive pollution but could infect wild salmon with a disease called piscine reovirus.
The footage that sparked the investigation, shot by photographer Tavish Campbell, shows what appears to be a pipe releasing toxic red waste into otherwise clear water. Campbell collected samples of the red water, which tested positive for pathogens potentially harmful to wild fish populations.
In a statement about the audit, Campbell said:
I was surprised to see the press release include an outdated report by the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences (CAHS) on Piscine Reovirus (PRV). New findings by scientists from DFO and Pacific Salmon Foundation in May 2018 have shown that PRV of Norwegian origin causes jaundice and anemia in Chinook salmon.The CAHS claims the PRV situation in BC “requires further investigation.” If we wait until there is 100 percent scientific certainty that PRV causes harm to wild salmon, it will be too late for wild salmon.
Watch the disturbing footage he captured.
And the seafood industry’s horrible reputation doesn’t stop there. Recent undercover footage of salmon factory farms off Vancouver Island reveals blind, emaciated salmon swimming in their own feces. According to the video, a 17-year report discovered that sea lice from one of the fish farms had been killing young wild salmon.
Because fish factory farms confine so many fish in small, filthy enclosures, they are perfect breeding grounds for parasites. In fact, in 2016 an outbreak of sea lice spread from Scandinavia to Chile. To combat the growing epidemic of sea lice, salmon factory farms import tons of wild-caught wrasse. As “cleaner” fish, wrasse consume parasites and are used instead of chemicals to fight lice infestations. Importing these fish for parasite control wreaks havoc on native fish populations.
Factory-farmed fish endure lives of misery in crowded, waste-filled pools. A 2016 study notes that farmed salmon become “so depressed they give up on life.” Whether they’re farmed or caught, fish are capable of experiencing pain and fear much like land animals. Not only is killing them for food unnecessary; it’s inhumane, unsustainable, and unhealthy.
To make matters worse, fish are slaughtered in incredibly cruel ways. 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.
Keeping fish off your plate is the best way to protect marine ecosystems and end support of a cruel industry. To get started, try these vegan seafood recipes.