Fish are smart enough to use tools, can communicate and have distinct personalities. It has been established beyond doubt that they feel pain.
So how is it that we can justify torturing them in their trillions, every single year, for our palates?
Photo essay with words by Joy Ann Satchell and Sandra Kyle
Fish are the original vertebrates, our direct evolutionary ancestors. Scaly pioneers with small limbs, they crawled from the sea and colonized the land, and gave rise to our species.
But we have forgotten our evolutionary debt to them. They are our silent victims. We don’t hear them scream when they’re impaled on hooks, or when the hooks are ripped from their delicate mouths. Yet they have nervous systems that comprehend and respond to pain.
We invade their territory and trap them in vast nets. They are wrenched from their ocean home into open air, and go through the agony of suffocation. Such are their numbers that the fishing industry can only measure their loss in tonnes.
We haul them in, and leave them to die in agony, wounded, ‘drowning’ in the air.
Human greed is not even satisfied with this holocaust. We farm them as well.
Salmon farms, where they live in cramped and polluted cages, unable to escape, fighting for space, fighting for freedom. Many die of disease and despair even before slaughter weight.
A glint of scales, a swatch of luminescence… fish are beautiful and complex creatures. These graceful denizens of the ocean have as much right to live as you and I. Let them live in their home, undisturbed, free and fulfilling their own destiny.