As a vegetarian it is not seldom that I hear the comment “ohh so you are a vegetarian, but you do eat fish right?”. No, of course I don’t eat fish. A fish is NOT a vegetable and I am against all killing and suffering of animals – so of course I can’t accept it for fish either. I have never understood how anyone could call them-self a vegetarian but still eat fish?!? Perhaps they don’t recognise (or want to realise) that fish injure just as much pain as other animals when they are caught and slaughtered.
Like other animals, fish feel pain and experiences fear. According to Donald Bloom, who is the animal welfare advisor to the British government, the nerve system in a fish is almost the same as in birds and mammals. This means that when they are dragged from the depths of the ocean, the fish undergo a terrible decompression – the fast pressure change ruptures their swim bladders, pops out their eyes, and pushes their stomachs through their mouths. Then they are thrown onto the ship, where they slowly suffocate, are crushed to death or are still alive when their throats and bellies are cut open. Does that sound like a nice death to you…one that you can just oversee so that you can eat sushi and still call yourself a vegetarian (or just eat fish for that matter)???
Overfishing is also a problem for the commercial fishing industry. Having basically emptied out the sea for “desired” fish, they now raise fish in fish farms. This practise is known as “aquaculture” and uses either cages in the ocean or tanks on land. There are so many fish in one cage/tank that they can hardly swim and bump into each other and the walls of the enclosure all the time. This results in painful sores and damage to their fins. The huge amount of feces in the tanks also lead to outbreaks of parasites and disease (besides the environmental damage of the surrounding area). In order to keep the fish alive in such an unhealthy environment, large quantities of antibiotics and other chemicals are poured into the water. When the fish have reached the desired size, they are brutally killed by having their stomachs cut open or they die of suffocation when the water in the tank is simply drained away.
NB: This article is a tribute to my wonderful sister Gitte, who has always been a strict vegetarian. Happy birthday Gitte.