David & Goliath

Forgotten Fish

Coalition to ban virginity testing & hymenoplasty

Jenny Canham, Campaigns and Public Affairs Specialist at Animal Equality UK, campaigning for stronger legal protections for fish. April 2023. Copyright: Animal Equality

“Fish feel pain and can suffer, just like all animals. Despite this, they are currently being let down by the UK legal system, receiving only very minimal protections in law. It’s time to change this, to ensure that fish are no longer forgotten.” – Jenny Canham, Campaigns and Public Affairs Specialist, Animal Equality UK

The Campaign

Animal Equality’s ‘Forgotten Fish’ campaign highlights the overwhelming scientific consensus that fish can feel pain and suffer, just like all animals, and therefore should receive adequate protections in law.

Although approximately 77 million fish are killed for human consumption annually, they currently receive only very basic and minimal legal protections.

Their investigative evidence documenting the slaughter of farmed fish, both on land and on boats, shows the extent of their suffering. The campaign argues there is a lack of legal guidance and sufficient monitoring during a time where they are at their most vulnerable.

There is no reason for fish not to receive the same level of legal protections as other farmed animals. Campaigners say it’s time for the Government to address this and uphold the UK’s reputation as a leader in animal welfare. Fish must no longer be forgotten.

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awards

Volunteer holding Animal Equality leaflet at the Animal Rights March, London, August 2022. Copyright: Animal Equality

‘We are honoured to be shortlisted in this important category and are especially proud that this marks the first time that a campaign in defence of fish has been considered for a National Campaigner of the Year award. Animal Equality’s Forgotten Fish campaign is certainly a David & Goliath story. Fish are so often overlooked in animal protection, even though they are farmed in the highest numbers. This achievement, together with the success of the campaign so far, shows that the public truly cares about fish. It’s now time for these animals to receive stronger protections in law.”

Jenny Canham, Campaigns and Public Affairs Specialist, Animal Equality UK

awards

Volunteer holding Animal Equality leaflet at the Animal Rights March, London, August 2022. Copyright: Animal Equality

‘We are honoured to be shortlisted in this important category and are especially proud that this marks the first time that a campaign in defence of fish has been considered for a National Campaigner of the Year award. Animal Equality’s Forgotten Fish campaign is certainly a David & Goliath story. Fish are so often overlooked in animal protection, even though they are farmed in the highest numbers. This achievement, together with the success of the campaign so far, shows that the public truly cares about fish. It’s now time for these animals to receive stronger protections in law.”

Jenny Canham, Campaigns and Public Affairs Specialist, Animal Equality UK

The Change

Over the past two years, Animal Equality has shifted the way fish are viewed, both in law and by the public.

They released the UK’s first investigation into the slaughter of farmed Scottish salmon. It showed evidence of fish experiencing extreme suffering at a time when they are most vulnerable. They organised an open letter to UK national governments, urging them to take action, signed by 70 animal welfare academics and organisations.

As a result, they worked with Scottish Government and fellow animal advocates to achieve mandatory welfare-oriented inspections in fish slaughterhouses as a legal requirement in Scotland, for the first time ever. This change could impact over 50 million animals a year.

They presented at the UK’s first Parliamentary meeting on fish welfare. The event was hosted by Lord Trees and shows that fish are being taken more seriously in a political realm.

As the same time, they’ve consistently secured high-profile press coverage, changing how fish are viewed publicly. Their work for fish has been published in The Times, The Observer, The Scotsman, and The Grocer, reaching millions of people with a message of compassion towards fish.

The Future

The campaign is at a critical turning point for fish welfare in the UK. The Animal Welfare Committee (AWC), the Government’s official advisory body, has just privately shared recommendations for how fish should be protected legally at the time of slaughter.

They continue to work closely with the AWC during this period and will continue to work with the Government to ensure that recommendations are incorporated into law.

The ‘Forgotten Fish’ campaign says it’s critical that fish finally receive stronger, species-specific legal protections – it’s the least they deserve. This includes adequate monitoring at the time of killing by way of mandatory inspections and CCTV in fish slaughterhouses across the United Kingdom.

Who else was involved?

The Humane League UK

The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation