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DROWNING IN PAIN: Fish Are the Forgotten Victims of Factory Farming

Consumers will be astonished to discover the severely overcrowded and filthy ponds of fish farms that lead to physical damage to their tails, fins, and eyes, parasites, and bacteria.

LEX RIGBY: It’s widely accepted that chickens are by far the most intensively farmed land animal—with around 50 billion slaughtered for food around the world each year—and arguably, among the most abused. But when we compare their experience to that of aquatic animals, who receive fewer legal protections and are farmed with even less understanding of their individual needs, we have an even tougher battle on our hands in advocating for their rights…

Fish farming (known collectively along with the farming of other marine animals as “aquaculture”) is the practice of rearing fish under controlled conditions and includes both salt and freshwater species. It’s the world’s fastest-growing food production sector, generating over half of the fish filling our supermarket shelves. Every day in Britain we eat around one million salmon meals, making the Atlantic salmon the most commonly farmed species.

As with land-based factory farms, conditions on fish farms cannot easily replicate the complexities of an animal’s natural environment — leading to increasing concerns regarding their welfare. Stocking densities are a major issue, as farmers either pack too many or too few individuals into filthy ponds or cage-based systems.

High numbers of fish packed together create a stressful environment in which fights regularly break out, causing fin damage and abrasions. Low numbers often mean the fish are more open to predation and therefore feel more threatened. Both environments are hugely distressing and high mortality rates, poor water quality, disease outbreaks, and increased levels of parasitic sea lice (in the case of Scottish salmon) are common.

Between June and November 2020, Viva! carried out a groundbreaking investigation into four rainbow trout farms supplying high-end supermarkets and “luxury” food retailers including Waitrose, Abel & Cole, Harrods, and Fortnum & Mason. The brands targeted are supposedly synonymous with “sustainability” and “high welfare standards,” yet serious questions have now been raised about unacceptable conditions that create a breeding ground for disease and lead to unnecessary pain and suffering…

Viva!’s video footage reveals trout severely overcrowded in filthy ponds and afflicted with abrasive injuries and swim bladder disorders affecting their buoyancy. Physical damage to their tails, fins, and eyes was widespread and seemingly untreated, leaving them open to infection from parasites, bacteria, and secondary fungal infection…

Without a doubt, many consumers will be astonished to discover the industrialized nature of rainbow trout farming, which relies on heavy-duty machinery to pump fish between ponds during their life-cycle. This practice disorients the fish as they are transported through pipework with powerful and at times sporadic water jets. Not having a constant flow of water through the system is likely one of the common causes of the abrasive injuries documented…

With aquaculture on the rise, these problems are only set to get worse. Since there are so many plant-based seafood alternatives available that more than rival their fish-based counterparts in taste and texture, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to choose vegan instead. SOURCE…

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