At present, monitoring and inspections of fish slaughterhouses are clearly inadequate, with no long-term welfare-oriented inspection system in place and no mandatory CCTV cameras in slaughterhouses and boats. This places aquatic animals at risk of extreme and prolonged suffering.
In addition, fish are currently excluded from The Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) Regulations. This means there are currently no species-specific requirements as to how fish should be delivered, held, stunned or killed.
Given that scientists overwhelmingly conclude that fish feel pain and can suffer, much like all other animals, it is essential that fish are included in these regulations. Otherwise, those trapped in this already cruel system are at even greater risk in their final moments.
The Government has a duty of care to the aquatic animals raised and slaughtered for consumption, as well as to UK consumers, to ensure that laws are enacted and legal compliance is maintained. And it must adequately penalise those companies who fail to adhere to the laws in place. The industry cannot continue to be permitted to essentially self-regulate.
Animal Equality is working with animal welfare scientists and experts to urge the UK Government to put in place increased legal protections for farmed fish at the time of killing - both on land and at sea - and to ensure there is adequate oversight of those laws.