Of all the strange decisions we have made around our self proclaimed right to murder billions of animalsevery year, none is stranger than our logic, according to which fish are not animals.
In his book “Creative Evolution” (1910), Philosopher Henri Bergson describes the evolution of intelligence among life forms. He points out (before scientific methodology does, as far as I know) that intelligence was developed among beings that developed movement, as the more agile the creature is, the less of a heavy, defensive hide he can carry on himself (like the hide of the heavy dinosaurs or even the bark of a tree). This loss of a defense mechanism was in turn compensated by the development of intelligence. It sounds logical and, in general, it’s highly recommended to read Bergson’s books.
I never understood how come some vegetarian people consider fish as food. Even worse, few years ago I have seen an article in the news, as holiday season was approaching, that showed the hellish road a fish takes from the moment he is taken from the water until he is served dead as food to someone. As the news reporter jokingly described the process where the fish was cut to pieces, I realized that there is no chance in the world that a similar article, happy and even funny to some people will be broadcasted if the subject matter was a cow or a chicken and not a fish. Even as a meat eating teenager I found this strange phenomenon of fish being degraded into a sub-animal very questionable. Back then I had only one hint for an answer to this question, taken from the beautiful song by the great Nirvana.
So yes, I began hearing this weak argument a lot, and even believed it along with many other people. Ironically the people who know that this is nonsense are the people who slaughter these animals, yet try to find “merciful” ways to do so on page 22 in an elaborated report about the need for what every woman or man with even the slightest hint of self consciousness will find stupid and bizarre – Humane killing.
Many existing commercial killing methods expose fish to substantial suffering over a prolonged period of time. For some species, existing methods, whilst capable of killing fish humanely, are not doing so because operators don’t have the knowledge to evaluate them.
Only mechanical spiking methods can be considered humane. Non mechanical methods are difficult to standardise and even mechanical methods require considerable skill to apply. Electrical methods can be stunning or stun / killing methods, depending on the electrical parameters applied. Evidence indicates that electrical stunning systems do not induce a sufficiently long period of insensibility to ensure the fish dies before recovery of consciousness.
Electrical stun / killing systems can be humane if the correct parameters are used but might cause substantial suffering when incorrectly applied.Fish find CO2 narcosis very aversive. It can be a stunning or a stun / killing method. But in commercial practice, it is usually a sedation method only because of the short exposure times used.
Shooting and electric harpoon for farmed tuna, hydraulic shock and hypoxic stunning have poor welfare implications. Asphyxia, asphyxia in ice / thermal shock, salt bath, ammonia solution, electro-immobilisation /electrostimulation / physical exhaustion using electrical shocks, decapitation and bleeding out / exsanguination are not humane methods for killing fish Sedation / anaesthesia prior to slaughter reduces the stress associated with handling if used correctly but it is not possible to use currently available anaesthetic or sedative for any fish that might enter the food chain. Pre-slaughter sedation by slow live chilling is not a humane method to sedate or kill fish.
Of all the living beings slaughtered by mankind in great numbers in order to satisfy a hellish hunger, fish get the least sympathy, a fact that is neither just or justified. Since these are underwater animals, they do not communicate with us in the same way a calf would, and this is their tragedy within the infernal tragedy of all animal prisoners in our world. About 90 Billion fish are killed every year for our pleasure, and worse, as Philip wollen describes, in order to feed herbivorous cows that we are planning to kill as well. In the near future there are not going to be any fish in the oceans, and even when me and my friends tell other people about the number of animals killed every year, we erroneously separate land animals and water animals in our descriptions. This is a mistake and it should not be done. Every year, 150,000,000,000 animals are killed for food. Among them are cows, pigs, fish, sheep etc.
On PETA’s web page they show that fish are not as stupid as we think they are. They like to play, they like to cuddle and they even tend small gardens underwater from which they remove all unwanted sea weed and keep those that they like to eat. Here’s another interesting article, and as you watch it, please notice the news reporter’s attempt to divert the joy from the discovery of intelligence in the fish to the joy of a researcher who succeeds with his project. Animals should do much more in order to satisfy us, so it seems.