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Commercial Fishing and Fish Farms

Many people who are otherwise opposed to meat-eating seem to exclude fish from their equation of compassion – hence an entire term, “pescatarian,” for those who will not eat the flesh of land animals but will eat fish. The commercial fishing industry, however, practices its trade in ways that are horrendously cruel to fish, destructive to the environment, and worrying for our health.

Factory trawling vessels, which rake the sea floor with huge nets to catch specific breeds of commercially desirable fish, destroy ecosystems and result in the deaths of millions of animals per year. Approximately 8% of fish caught by such methods are “by-catch” and are unwanted by the industry. This process is highly damaging to our oceans, and some scientists estimate that most fish species will be extinct within the next century if current fishing trends continue.

On fish farms, life is no better for fish than it is for their four-legged cousins in factory farms. Animals are kept in overcrowded and dirty conditions, which necessitate the use of chemicals to kill bacteria and prevent the growth of vegetation. The polluted waste produced by such practices damage coastal estuaries and other nearby bodies of water. Finally, the process used to transport farmed fish to slaughter is extremely stressful and damaging to the animals, who are treated as if they feel no pain (a belief that has been thoroughly debunked by modern science).

Further Reading

Mercy For Animals – Sealife to Seafood

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – Fish Feel Pain

Farm Sanctuary – Factory Seafood Production

Mercy For Animals – “Skinned Alive” Undercover Investigation

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly by James McWilliams

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