Fish must be killed ‘humanely’ says global regulator after accepting they feel ‘pain, stress and anxiety’

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  19th October 2022

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'Fish are sentient beings, able to feel and experience pain, stress and anxiety. Handling operations have the potential to inflict suffering'.


Fish can feel ‘pain, stress and anxiety’, a global seafood regulator has acknowledged, saying it will implement new welfare rules.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which certifies farmed fish worldwide including some sold in British supermarkets, is working on proposals for the new rules, which will include stunning the animals before slaughtering them.

‘Aversive’ slaughter methods will be prohibited for finned fish under the new rules, but will not yet apply to crustaceans. These include ‘asphyxia, salt baths, ammonia baths and evisceration’.

To be granted the ASC certification, producers will have to adhere to the new rules. They can currently use asphyxia or evisceration under current standards.

According to the draft ASC standards, the animals are ‘sentient beings, able to feel and experience pain, stress and anxiety. Handling operations have the potential to inflict suffering’.

‘Fish are sentient’

Responding to the news, Nick Palmer, Head of Compassion in World Farming UK, said: “The addition of these first fish welfare standards, some of which are still in draft form, is great news and an important step forward.

“However, there is still much more to be done to improve the lives of the billions that suffer silently in underwater farms all around the world.

“Just like other animals, fish are intelligent, sentient beings that need protection from unnecessary suffering – something we know consumers support. The adoption of welfare standards by fish certification schemes also gives them the ability to choose higher welfare products.

“That’s why we’re working with certification schemes to ensure that new welfare standards are properly implemented and that schemes that are yet to take that first step to better welfare get the support and advice they need.”

You don’t need to slaughter any animals to enjoy seafood. Try our recipe for Banana Blossom ‘Fish’ and Chips.

Featured image credit: Dave Alan via Getty Images

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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