Your discussion of the 2010 Guardian article “Peter Singer speaks against cruelty to fish” (http://www.animals24-7.org/2013/11/22/peter-singer-s…ruelty-to-fish/ ) was much appreciated. Fish are sentient individuals, as has been scientifically shown. Among other important qualities, they are perceptive, communicative, and personable. For example, groupers use body gestures to invite eels to hunt with them and to indicate where food can be found. They then work cooperatively to obtain it.
Fish are by far the largest number of exploited vertebrate animals, and arguably suffer the worst abuses. Grievously, they receive the least concern, even from the animal advocacy community. Some one to three trillion fish per year are hauled from the waters for use as human food. Billions more are raised in factory fish farms, and untold millions of fish are tortured for so-called sport. Billions are also exploited annually for the aquarium trade and, increasingly, millions of fish are used for invasive experimentation.
Fish are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act, nor by the Humane Slaughter Act. They are routinely impaled, crushed, suffocated, and dissected while fully conscious. Commercial fishing also kills countless whales, dolphins, birds, and other animals. It obliterates underwater habitat and wreaks havoc on ecosystems. Farmed fish are commonly crammed together in foul water. Sea lice can infest these fish so severely that their flesh is eaten to the bone. They are continually subjected to painful procedures, and many are starved for days prior to their gruesome slaughter.
Years ago, Henry Spira observed that activists’ efforts were “a drop in the bucket, ” since at that time farmed animal issues were essentially unaddressed. Farmed animals are now receiving much attention, but Spira’s lament remains largely true while fish (and shellfish), who comprise such a vast percentage of exploited animals, receive so little notice. By ignoring fish so, the animal protection community is itself being very speciesist.
Fish Feel, a new organization, is devoted exclusively to promoting the recognition of fish as sentient beings deserving of respect and protection. Please visit our Facebook page and web site where, among other features, on “Your Page” we invite you to share how you came to the realization that fish are sentient, or relate that you’ve always intuitively realized it. Please consider fish in your activism, including through Fish Feel, and urge other organizations to include them in their advocacy, in order to obtain the representation they deserve and so desperately need.
––Mary Finelli, President, Fish Feel
Silver Spring, Maryland