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Actor Zoë Wanamaker Unveils Shocking EU Fish Farm Cruelty

News Section Icon Published 10/27/2023

New footage reveals horrific cruelty including live fish being packed into plastic bags and having their eyes gouged out in EU trout farms

Compassion in World Farming is today (31 October) calling on the EU to introduce legislation to protect the welfare of farmed fish without delay after revealing new footage of shocking and widespread cruelty in EU trout farms.

The results of the undercover investigation – which focused on four Polish trout farms – are revealed today in a new video presented by world renowned actor Zoë Wanamaker. The investigation shows appalling images of live fish:

  • being gutted
  • having their eyes gouged out
  • being suffocated and crushed in overcrowded barrels, and
  • even being packed into plastic bags with no water.

Electrical devices attempting to stun were ineffective and shocks were repeated, causing pain. Numerous other welfare concerns were witnessed including fungal infections, fin erosion, injuries, barren environments, and sick fish.

The animal welfare and environmental NGO says the scientific case is clear - like many other animals, fish are sentient creatures capable of suffering and feeling pain. They are intelligent, sensitive animals who explore, travel, socialise, hunt and play and some species care for their young and use tools as people do.

Dr Natasha Boyland, Fish Policy and Research Manager at Compassion in World Farming, said: "This investigation has revealed appalling and widespread cruelty exposing the desperate and urgent need for improved legal protection for farmed fish in the EU and around the world.

“Our investigators witnessed widespread shocking cruel practices including live fish being gutted, being packed into plastic bags, and even having their eyes gouged out. The scientific evidence is clear that fish are sentient animals capable of feeling pain and suffering, just like other animals. It is therefore totally unacceptable to allow this barbaric cruelty to continue.

“We must ensure that fish are protected from cruelty by comprehensive and species-specific legislation and we urge the EU to introduce such legislation to protect their welfare without delay as part of the animal welfare legislation revision.”

Up to 1.2 billion fish of various species are reared in similar farms annually across the EU, with trout the most commonly farmed fish in the EU. The NGO says the distressing conditions revealed in this investigation are not isolated. Despite growing recognition of fish sentience and the need for improved animal welfare standards, a critical gap in EU legislation, and elsewhere in the world, leaves fish without adequate protection.

In 2020, the European Commission committed to revising animal welfare legislation – including transport and slaughter practices – to align with the latest scientific evidence on fish sentience. Despite these promises, the Commission has failed to publish new animal welfare legislation proposals.

As well as revealing cruelty, the investigation exposed alarming environmental concerns. Unhygienic water quality was found on all farms but one, with dead animals, faeces, and feed remains in ponds.

Actor and Compassion in World Farming supporter Zoë Wanamaker, said: “It's time that we stood up for the welfare of farmed fish which is why I am supporting Compassion in World Farming’s campaign, calling on the European Commission to introduce legislation to protect these creatures."

Visit our website for further information on how to support the campaign.

For more information please email or call +44 (0)1483 521 615.

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. A summary of the investigation findings.
3. Images of the investigation.


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