A petition asking for new standards to protect the welfare of fish signed by more than 150,000 people, was handed on Monday to the European Commission. It comes ahead of a full revision of animal welfare legislation announced by the Commission in May 2020 as part of the EU farm and Fork strategy and Compassion in World Farming wants to ensure that farmed fish welfare standards are included.
The petition was sponsored by Compassion in World Farming, a leading farm animal welfare organization dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. The organization alleges to have representatives across Europe, in the USA, and in China.
Compassion in world farming explains that each year in the EU, around a billion fish suffer silently in underwater factory farms. Until recently, many people were not aware that fish were sentient or feel pain and the mental abilities of fish were given limited attention by the scientific community. More recent scientific research, however, has discovered that fish not only feel pain and experience fear but also – like many other animals – explore, travel, socialize, hunt and play.
All farmed fish would benefit from humane slaughter, gentle handling, conditions that provide good water quality, and environments that meet their physical, mental, and behavioral needs. Farmed fish welfare legislation is crucial to ensure these needs are met.
The petition, which gathered 150,000 signatures from across the EU and beyond, calls on the EU to set good fish welfare standards during rearing, transport and slaughter. It was launched across the EU earlier this year by non-profit Compassion in World Farming and has been supported by Essere Animali and WeMove.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said: “Today, thousands of people from Europe and beyond have asked the EU to stop ignoring the issue of fish welfare. People are increasingly aware that fish are being tortured in underwater factory farms, yet most politicians have so far turned a blind eye to the issue.
“In the EU, we farm about a billion fish every year, yet we have almost no rules to prevent abuses. We must absolutely set standards to avoid overcrowding, diseases, mutilations, rough handling during transport and painful slaughter. Like other farmed animals, fish deserve better. We now call on the EU Commission to take action to deliver this request from EU citizens.”