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4 Ways The Fishing Industry is Destroying the Planet

Whether the fish are wild-caught or from aquafarms, you should never eat fish if you care about the future of the planet.

You may have learned about the devastating effects that the animal agriculture industry has on land use and deforestation from the news stories about the Amazon Rainforest fires. But meat and dairy aren’t the only foods that are harmful to the environment.

Fish make it to the supermarket in one of two ways: commercial fishing or aquafarming. Both have negative environmental impacts that harm animals. Here’s why you should never eat fish if you care about the future of the planet: 

TOXIC WATER CONDITIONS: Most of the fish eaten today are raised on aquafarms, either inland or on fenced-off cages in the ocean. On these farms, fish spend their whole lives (up to two years) confined in tightly packed spaces. The water can become toxic, and it—along with antibiotics, pesticides, parasites, and feces—is spread to surrounding areas, contaminating our oceans and infecting animals around these cages. Wild fish can get sick and die when parasites and chemicals are spread to them from these farms through the water. According to the study Fish, Money, and Science in Puget Sound by Marcia Barinaga, a 2-acre fish farm can produce as much waste as a town of 10,000 people.

AQUAFARMING LEADS TO MORE FISHING: Not only does aquafarming create massive amounts of waste, but it also contributes to more industrial fishing. This is because many of the fish raised on these farms are predators, meaning they need to eat smaller fish to live. Billions of wild fish are caught in order to feed farmed fish. For example, it takes five pounds of ocean fish to produce just one pound of farmed salmon. 

BOTTOM TRAWLING: Commercial fishing operations sometimes use a technique called “bottom trawling,” which takes place when fishing boats drag giant nets across the ocean floor scrapping up all fish in their path.

We exposed the brutality and destruction caused by trawling—scraping the sea floor—in the Mediterranean Sea. The footage we captured shows millions of fish being hoisted onto a boat, where they squirmed and gasped for air. The majority of these individuals were gutted alive or put into a freezer to suffer a slow and painful death.

LONGLINE FISHING: Longline fishing is a technique in which boats drag long fishing lines through the water with several hooks on them. These fishing lines are up to 50 feet long, and they catch and kill unintended species—such as different fish, sea birds, turtles, and whales—en masse. These animals are then thrown overboard as “bycatch.” Longlines also can get lost in the ocean and are never retrieved, killing animals long after the boats have left. 

How You Can Help: It’s tough to comprehend the massive number of sea animals who are killed yearly, but the truth is that it’s not too late to turn things around! If you care about the animals and the environment, the most effective thing you can do is to stop eating fish and other animal-derived foods and choose plant-based options instead. It’s easier than ever before! 

You can also help us help protect the oceans as we work to expose the destruction caused by modern fishing practices that are harming animals and our planet. Please donate to support this work–every dollar donated until the end of June will be matched by a generous donor!

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