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INVESTIGATION: Fish Killed While Fully Conscious in Scottish Salmon Slaughterhouse

February 15, 2021

Animal Equality has released undercover footage from a slaughter facility operated by The Scottish Salmon Company, a supplier of major UK supermarkets, as well as numerous international retailers, including in the US. The pioneering footage, shot by an undercover investigator, is the first of its kind to be released in the UK and shows the brutal nature in which farmed salmon are killed. 

THE DETAILS: The investigation, published exclusively by The Times, has revealed several extremely serious animal welfare abuses, including a significant number of fish who were killed while fully conscious. The footage also detailed:

  • Numerous animals displaying consciousness after failure to stun, evidenced by motions such as flapping, wriggling, and gasping.
  • Salmon’s gills cut without prior stunning, causing pain, and/or salmon being re-stunned with a club after their gills were cut, causing blood to spray from their gills.
  • Salmon being clubbed multiple times, in some instances as many as seven times per animal.
  • Salmon’s gills torn with workers’ fingers, rather than a scalpel.
  • Animals falling or being thrown to the floor and left to suffocate.

WHAT EXPERTS ARE SAYING: “This footage is alarming. A significant number of salmon are clearly conscious when their gills are cut, which could result in extreme pain for as long as seven minutes.” Mark Borthwick, Head of Research at the Aquatic Life Institute

CELEBRITY SUPPORT: Alexander Gould, who voiced Nemo, the much-loved animated clownfish in Disney/Pixar’s blockbuster movie Finding Nemo, has also shown his support for the campaign by narrating Animal Equality’s video of the investigation findings.

BACKGROUND: Up to 77 million fish are raised and slaughtered in the UK each year—that’s more than two animals killed per second. The Scottish Salmon Company supplies major supermarket chains Waitrose and Co-op, as well as high-end retailers and premium hotels and restaurants across the UK. It also exports its products to over 20 countries around the world, including significant trade deals in place with Japanese and the US markets.

WHAT WE’RE SAYING: “The brutal footage released by our team shows the heartbreaking truth about commercial fishing—an industry whose practices deliver tremendous suffering to billions of fish every year. Companies like The Scottish Salmon Company aren’t unique in their cruelty, and this investigation shows that we have much work to do in order to establish even basic protections for farmed aquatic animals. It’s the least these sensitive animals deserve.” Sharon Núñez, President of Animal Equality.

WHAT WE’RE DOING NEXT: Animal Equality in the UK has coordinated an open letter addressed to the country’s ministers, which has been signed by 70 world-leading aquatic animal specialists, welfare academics, and animal protection organizations. Concerned by the investigation’s findings, signatories are calling for specific and meaningful protections to be put in place for fish and other aquatic animals at the time of death, as well as legal training requirements and frequent on-site inspections. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Every single day, farmed aquatic animals suffer on farms and in slaughterhouses like those used by The Scottish Salmon Company. Unfortunately, unlike pigs, cows, and chickens, fish do not have even basic protections in the food production industry. For example in the US, they are not even covered by the Humane Slaughter Act. That needs to change, and we are working to make that happen. In the meantime, if you’re concerned by this footage, you can act immediately by keeping fish off your plate. Doing so is not only an act of compassion but also lets the fish industry know that this sort of cruelty and abuse will not be tolerated. Save a life and spare billions from suffering—say no to eating fish.


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