The wonderful folks at Mercy For Animals (MFA) performed a detailed, undercover investigation of a fish-slaughtering facility in Mesquite, Texas, called "Catfish Corner." The results of the investigation were disturbing, to say the least.
MFA investigators went into the place with hidden cameras that picked up some of the worst of the abuses. The fish are alive and conscious when they're being skinned and dismembered. And if there is a soul out there who still thinks that fish don't feel pain - excruciating pain - think again.
MFA's undercover video captured the following:
Workers using pliers to pull the skin off of live fish Dozens of fish crammed into buckets and baskets, gasping for oxygen Skinned fish still moving and gasping on the cutting table Fish flailing and struggling to escape the workers’ knives Live fish sliced and split in half Workers tearing the heads off of live fish
"Treating [fish] like inanimate things is cruel and ethically abhorrent," said Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, author of the extraordinary book Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals. "Handling such as that shown in the footage is extremely cruel and heartless and should be outlawed immediately." (Source)
Added veterinarian Lee Schrader: "To subject fish to an obviously painful procedure such as the removal of their skin, while they are alive and responsive, is cruel, inhumane and without excuse." (Source)
Please watch the video if you get a chance. Even if you're one of the converted. We need to know what we're up against. The scenes are heartbreaking. The fish are convulsing and flopping and jumping wildly as they're being cut open and beheaded and handled in the most violent fashion imaginable.
Watching these fish, imagining the intense pain they're feeling in the final moments of their life, one cannot possibly adhere to the callous belief that fish have no feelings.
I remember there was a moment in time as I was transitioning from omnivore to vegan (I didn't go through the vegetarian phase - not more than about a week, anyway) when I was considering keeping fish in my diet. "They're different than animals," I told myself. "They don't feel any pain."
What nonsense. I'm glad I woke up. I watched films like this one and realized they feel just as much pain as mammals. And scientific test after scientific test backs me up on this one. Fish experience agonizing deaths when they are turned to food. It is impossible to rationalize the mass murder of these aquatic beings without jettisoning a big chunk of your humanity first.
I'm just thankful there are groups out there like Mercy for Animals that remind us of this profound truth. Fish feel as much pain as pigs, chickens, cows, and they feel as much pain as human beings. I remember one of the first Hollywood films I ever saw about fish, Jaws (1975), featured a massive, razor-toothed protagonist that devoured human beings. To these fish, humans are the brutal predators. And until human beings change their ways and stop eating fish once and for all, cycles of pain and suffering - like the ones captured in this video, and like the millions and millions of other instances not recorded on film - will continue.