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Fish Left To Suffocate In Mexico’s Aquaculture Industry

Animal Equality's latest investigation exposes the suffering of fish who have no protection under Mexican law.
14/12/2021 Updated: 20/12/2021
Tilapia fish suffocating

Animal Equality has infiltrated tilapia farms in Mexico and uncovered the suffering of these animals at the hands of the farmed fish industry, due in part to the lack of laws protecting them from extreme cruelty. 

Our researchers documented shocking scenes in several farms, showing serious health and welfare issues including:

  • Fish being roughly handled, which is painful for them;
  • Hundreds of fish packed into the same container, some crushed under the weight of others;
  • Young fish and female fish being discarded like rubbish as they are not considered profitable;
  • Fish being left on the floor to die from suffocation;
  • Organs being cut out of fish while the animals were still conscious;
  • Fish being moved from one tank to another over a 6-8 hour period, during which time they had very little oxygen and were crammed in such a small space that they could barely move;
  • At one of the farms, a worker stated that the fish had not been fed for months and so had begun to eat each other out of starvation.

Fish killed while fully conscious

In addition to the overcrowded and unhygienic conditions in which the fish are forced to live in, we found that it is common practice for them to be killed without prior stunning. One farm did attempt to stun the animals, but did so ineffectively, prolonging the distress of these sensitive animals. 

We documented fish’s organs being removed while they were still conscious. Some fish showed signs of life, such as opening their mouths, expanding their gills and wriggling, even after this.

Fish feel pain

Scientific research shows that fish, like other farmed animals, can feel pain. Despite this evidence, fish have no legal protections in Mexico. In fact, the Federal Animal Health Law does not even recognise fish as animals.

The practices that are applied to fish for breeding and consumption would be considered illegal if they were used with land-raised animals such as cows and pigs, yet they are practiced regularly and there is no legislation to prevent it.

Dulce Ramírez, Vice President Latin America, Animal Equality

Fish always suffer immensely when they are raised and killed for human consumption. The solution to this is for us to keep them off our plates and opt for plant-based options instead.

UK fish farming 

Fish farmed in the UK, such as salmon and trout, have few legal protections and suffer throughout their short lives.

Animal Equality’s investigation into a Scottish salmon slaughterhouse revealed similar scenes to those documented by our team in Mexico, including fish being killed while fully conscious and others left to suffocate on the floor.

We are working tirelessly to increase legal protections for fish in the UK and change the way people see these often forgotten animals.

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