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Scientific research has proven: fish feel pain. We call on the Ministry of Agriculture to enforce the Animal Protection Act in the fish industry, and stop the horrific abuse of fish trapped in industrial tanks and factories.

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Animals Now investigation reveals: severe abuse of fish in Israel’s industrial fish tanks. Fish are jam-packed in waters polluted with excretions and filled with pesticides. Infected with parasites, they suffer from injuries and diseases. Fish are routinely starved for many days, thrown on the ground to slowly suffocate to death, stepped on, cut while still alive, and frozen to death in agony.

On the Verge of Suffocation

The fish are kept in extremely crowded conditions, causing lack of oxygen, stress, and high susceptibility to diseases.

What Happens in an Industrial Fish Tank?

סטרפטוקוקוס

Death Spiral

When removed from the tank, the fish are vacuumed with intense air pressure and transferred to a machine that workers call “the screw”, because it features a giant metal spiral which lifts the fish out of the water, an into an automatic sorting machine. The fish are delicate and fragile animals - many are injured by “the screw” and during the transfer between the tank and the containers. Injuries include bleeding, cuts and shedding of scales, which function as the fish’s protective barrier from the external environment, and the injuries expose them to fungi, bacteria and contaminants.

Stepping on the Fish

Many fish fall and scatter on the floor around “the screw”, flopping and slowly suffocating. The workers completely ignore the dying fish, and have even been documented adding to their suffering by stepping on the fallen fish. In other cases, workers threw fish that had fallen onto the floor into the container to be sent off to the factory, alive or dead.

Arriving Dead to the Factory - And Sold

Many fish die before the intentional slaughter, either during transport or sorting. In the factory, they aren’t separated from fish that are still alive - and from there, they are all sent to market, contrary to procedure.

Freezing to Death

Fish are killed using blast-freezing. The fish swim frantically in panic and according to one worker, it takes up to half an hour for them to die! Killing fish using blast-freezing is considered an especially cruel method, and is contrary to the recommendations of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) and the European Panel on Animal Health and Welfare.

Their Bodies are Cut - While They’re Still Alive

Occasionally, fish from tanks are sent for tests to monitor disease and parasite levels in the water. They die a slow death on the exam room table. They are cut open while still alive.

The full investigation as published on the “Kan” Channel News Report

Dr. Jonathan Balcombe

“Fishes are cognitively and socially complex. They exhibit tool-use, observational learning, planning, long-term memory, face-recognition (including human faces), problem solving, innovation, referential signaling and many other cognitive skills that place them on par with mammals. Their social behaviors include courtship, parenting, culture, democracy, cooperation, deception, and virtue. In light of their capacities, fishes should be afforded the same ethical consideration as any other vertebrate animal. In sum, the science shows that fishes are sentient, cognitive and emotional, and that they suffer pain and distress. The practices depicted on the video footage I reviewed indicate a complete disregard for these capacities and are unacceptable in a civilized society."

Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, Ethologist, Author of  What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016

About the Investigation

The investigative team at Animals Now documented the situation of the fish tanks at Kibbutz Nir David and in Kfar Masaryk, from where fish are sold to the “Degat HaAretz” factory, and also used a hidden camera to photograph inside the factory. The photographs document how tilapia, carp, grass carp, mullet, bass and corvina are “cultivated” in Israel. “Degat HaAretz” is one of the largest fish factories in Israel, accounting for almost half of the fresh fish market. It distributes to the Shufersal and Osher Ad chains, among others.

Animals Now
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