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New study shows huge increase in global farmed fish numbers

News Section Icon Published 2/7/2023

Fish welfare legislation is urgently needed to protect farmed fish from cruelty, says Compassion in World Farming as a new scientific study published yesterday (6th February 2023) shows that the number of farmed fish has more than doubled since 2007.

The study – Estimating global numbers of farmed fishes killed for food annually from 1990 to 2019 – published yesterday in the Animal Welfare journal, shows that the number of farmed fish slaughtered globally has risen dramatically over the last 12 years – from 61 billion fish in 2007 to 124 billion in 2019.

The total number of fish farmed is likely to be much higher because many die during rearing. Inhumane slaughter practices cause immense suffering for farmed fish. Yet the study highlights that most farmed fish (70-72%) have no legal protection at all and less than 1% have any species-specific legal protection at slaughter, meaning most suffer long and agonising deaths.

Phil Brooke, Compassion in World Farming’s Research, who co-authored the report with lead author, Alison Mood, of Fishcount, said: “This new study reveals a massive increase in the number of farmed fish slaughtered over a 30 year period and highlights the urgent need for legislation to protect their welfare.

“It shows that around 124 billion individual fish are now slaughtered each year. These are sentient creatures who not only feel pain and experience fear but also experience a range of emotions. There are now more farmed fishes than farmed birds and mammals yet most farmed fish have no species-specific legal protection at all and this must be addressed.

“Fish welfare legislation is now urgently needed across the world to ensure all fish farmed have lives worth living and experience a humane death and we call on the EU and other legislative bodies to introduce new welfare laws at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Just last month, the NGO launched a new report at the European Parliament, Rethinking Aquaculture: for people, animals and the planet, and called on the EU to introduce fish welfare legislation as part of its current review of animal welfare legislation.

The figures in the report show that farmed fish – the majority of which are reared and slaughtered in Asia – are now likely to outnumber the 80 billion farmed birds and mammals killed globally each year for food.

The study’s lead author, Alison Mood runs Fishcount – a website dedicated to increasing understanding of fish sentience and raising awareness of the welfare issues in fish farming and commercial fisheries.

For more information please email or call 01483 521 886

Notes to Editors

1. Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming. Today Compassion is the leading farm animal welfare organisation dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. With headquarters in the UK, we have offices across Europe, in the US, China and South Africa.

2. Read more about our Rethink Fish campaign.


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