Fish Abuse

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In Defense of Animals Works to Protect Fish

Fish are one of the most abused groups of animals on the planet. Despite irrefutable scientific evidence that fish feel pain, many animal cruelty laws don’t apply to fish. As a result, they are killed by the trillions in the food sector, the pet trade, laboratories, and blood sports..

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Food Industry

On cruel fish farms, fish are confined to ponds of filthy water where they are eaten alive by parasites. Fifty percent of farmed fish are deaf and it can take fish up to nine minutes to die from suffocation. 

The commercial fishing industry is similarly barbaric. Wild fish are killed in brutal ways like beheading and suffocation. In addition to extreme animal cruelty, fishing is directly leading to one of the biggest existential problems of modern times — climate change.


Wild fish are also caught for sport and many sustain severe injuries which kill them if they are released. 22% of caught fish have their vision permanently impaired.  

If a dog or cat was subjected to this abuse, it would be a felony in many states. But fish are not protected from this type of cruelty. Nearly all states exempt “standard fishing practices” from their animal cruelty laws. 

In pet stores, fish languish in hazardous conditions and frequently die from neglect and improper care following purchase. These animals are sourced from the underwater equivalent of puppy mills or are captured from the wild via barbaric methods like cyanide poisoning. Even when fish cruelty is reported, it is rarely prosecuted.


Laboratories subject fish to a range of cruel procedures, such as being force-fed poison and infected with chronic diseases. Fish are genetically modified, making them more susceptible to deadly diseases or deformities. 

Marine Animals

Fishing and fish farming harms everyone. Nets strangle sea turtles and get caught around the necks of seals, algal blooms create dead zones and suffocate fish, and antibiotics and chemicals pollute the ocean, on top of endless individual suffering. Eating fish also starves animals who rely on them to live, such as orca and seabirds. These are just a few of the many ways that fish farming hurts not only fish, but other marine animals and the environment as well. Healthy, clean oceans are essential for oxygen production, biodiversity, and climate regulation.

What We Do

In Defense of Animals works to increase awareness about fish abuse and promote compassion toward these unique and wonderful beings. We are building up a broad coalition of advocacy groups oriented toward fish issues. We hope to lay a firm foundation for future efforts to protect fish and improve their legal status. 

What You Can Do

120 Billion

fish are killed every year on fish farms

1 Trillion

wild fish are captured and killed every year

How we help

What you can do

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