BY SOFO ARCHON
Every year, up to 2.7 trillion marine animals are killed by the fishing industry, just so that we can consume them.  
People enjoy eating fish, but most of them never stop for a minute to think what exactly it took for the fish they eat to end up on their plate. Below are some facts that reveal the ugly truth about the fishing industry, as excerpted from Peter Singer’s and Jim Mason’s eye-opening book The Ethics of What We Eat.
- Large fish will bully and sometimes eat small fish. To stop this, as farmed fish grow they are sorted for size, so that the faster-growing ones are separated from the slower-growing fish. The sorting takes place between three and five times during the rearing process and involves netting or pumping the fish out of their cage so that they drop through a series of bars that only allow progressively smaller fish through.
- The sorting adds to the stress endured by the salmon. In general, their crowded confinement gives rise to stress, abnormal behavior, sea lice infestations, abrasions, and a high death rate.
- Those that survive the rearing process are normally starved for 7-10 days before slaughter, to empty the gut and reduce the risk of contamination of the flesh when the fish is gutted. Any conscious being suddenly used to receiving plenty of food at frequent intervals will suffer if the food is suddenly cut off.
- Then comes slaughter. There is generally no requirement for stunning or humane slaughter of fish, so they are killed in brutal ways that would be illegal and shocking if used on cows or pigs.
- Farmed fish may simply be allowed to suffocate in the air. It can take 15 minutes for them to die by this method.
- Large fish like salmon may be bashed on the head with a wooden bat, which does not always kill them outright and may just leave them injured, to be cut open while fully conscious. Or they may be stunned by the use of carbon dioxide in the water. This causes them to thrash about for half a minute, after which they stop moving but do not lose consciousness for several more minutes.
- They then have their gills cut and bleed to death. It is possible that they are conscious during this process. 
And for those of you who are courageous enough to have your eyes even more opened to the harmful practices of the fishing industry, here are some other disturbing facts, as mentioned in the same book:
- Each year, hundreds of millions of fish are hooked on longlines–as much as 75 miles of line, with fishing boats or left in water overnight.
- Once hooked, swordfish and yellowfin tuna weighing hundreds of pounds will struggle for hours trying in vain to escape.
- Then they are hauled in, and as they come up to the boat, fishers sink pickaxes into their sides to pull them aboard. They are clubbed to death, or have their gills cut and bleed to death.
- Gill nets are another common form of commercial fishing. These nets, which can be up to a mile long, are left drifting in the sea, the top attached to floats, the bottom weighted down. The nets take advantage of the streamlined body shape of the fish, which swim into them and then are caught by the gills or fins, unable to back out.
- Some struggle so violently they injure themselves and bleed to death. Others remain trapped, perhaps for days, until the boat returns and hauls in the net.
- Then they will have their gills cut and will bleed to death, or may be left to flap helplessly on the deck as they suffocate.
- In bottom trawling […] a net is dragged along the bottom of the sea, gathering up everything in its path. Fish caught in the net will be dragged along for hours, squeezed against the wall of the net by everything else that it gathers up, including rocks, pieces of coral, and other fish. Their scales may be ground off by this process.
- If they are still alive when the net is hauled up, those that live in deep waters may die from decompression, their swimbladders ruptured, their stomachs forced out of their mouths, and their eyes bulging from their sockets. The remainder will suffocate in the air.
- On the factory ships that begin processing immediately, they may be cut up while they are still alive.
Image: Simon Blackley
Do Fish Feel Pain?
Many people think that fish are not sensitive to pain and can’t cognitively register it. In fact, there are some who call themselves vegetarians and yet still go on eating fish, claiming that fish are not much unlike plants.
Scientific research, however, proves that fish do feel pain and act to avoid it. Here’s a study, as written in The Ethics of What We Eat, the findings of which clearly show that fish are conscious of pain:
Proceedings of the Royal Society, the journal of one of the oldest and most respected scientific bodies in the world (Sir Isaac Newton once served as its president) published an article by Dr. Lynne Sheddon and other scientists at the Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh.
Sheddon and her colleagues injected bee venom and acetic acid into the lips of captive rainbow trout and found that they rubbed their lips into the gravel at the bottom of their tank and performed a rocking motion that is common in mammals who appear to be in pain. Other fish, in a control group, had only saltwater injected into their lips and did not show the same behavior.
In general, the researchers said, the trout showed “profound behavioral and physiological changes comparable to those observed in higher mammals.”
These changes went far beyond simple reflex responses. Moreover, when the fish were given morphine, they resumed feeding, as one might expect them to do if they had been in pain and the drug relieved the pain. 
The researchers concluded that “fish can perceive pain.”
Saying ‘No’ to Animal Abuse
When are we going to put an end to this insanity? Countless sentient beings are being killed by the fishing industry, and we don’t seem to care about it at all. In fact, it is because of our support that this cruelty is taking place. And for what reason? Just because we like the taste of those animals?
The fish, meat, dairy and egg industries have fooled us into believing that we need to eat animals and their by-products in order to be healthy. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth, considering that most studies show that eating animals is not only unnecessary for promoting health, but in fact could be tremendously detrimental to it.
Scientific research shows again and again that an organic, wholesome, varied and balanced plant-based diet is the best kind of diet, and that the human body doesn’t require animal food sources in order to stay healthy. So why contribute to the torture and brutal death of animals? It’s absolutely foolish and inhumane.
It’s about time we start treating animals the way they deserve to be treated: with compassion and respect. It’s about time we open our eyes to the truth and realize the consequences our actions are having on the natural world. It’s about time we stop acting out of conditioning and start making conscious choices based on reason and love.
“The time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” ~Leonardo Da Vinci