Fishing for Solutions: Let’s Net a Better Future in Aquaculture

In recent decades, fish farming has become increasingly important. In 2021, Switzerland “produced” a total of 3’850 tonnes of fish, of which 2’364 tonnes came from aquaculture; this represents about 5 million animals per year. The fact that fish farming is calculated in tonnes and not in numbers of individuals illustrates the focus on profitability alone. We tend to forget that, behind these figures, are sentient beings, subjected to great suffering in fish farming.

Current legislation does not meet the needs of various fish species. The primary aim of the law is to …

… prevent illness and mortality amongst fish. Therefore, only measures sufficient to guarantee the survival of fish are enacted. Yet, species-appropriate husbandry and the welfare of fish go far beyond survival. For instance, trout reside in natural waters, adapting to different currents according to their needs; they also enjoy the varied gravel bed. Unfortunately, the industry overlooks this crucial aspect with its conventional concrete flow channels.

Research not only attests to the ability of fish to feel pain, but it also points to the impressive range of cognitive capacities of these animals, which includes forms of altruism and joy – in the form of play, for example. At Sentience, we are convinced that we have a moral imperative to stand up for the welfare of non-human animals. Through our campaign, we demand the enhancement of legal protection for fish, as well as the improvement of husbandry conditions in aquaculture.

Support us by signing our petition today, and become a voice for fish in aquaculture.

7'715out of 10'000 signatures
Julie P.vor 6 Minuten
Vanessa T.vor 6 Minuten
Siria P.vor 12 Minuten
Sonja K.vor 31 Minuten
Anne S.vor 32 Minuten
Alexandre P.vor 1 Stunde
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Petition

1

Expansion of the legal protection for fish in aquaculture

2

Permitting housing only for species deemed appropriate for breeding based on scientific understanding

3

General improvements in fish farming practices (e.g., structuring tanks with elements that serve the natural behaviour of fish)

4

Mandatory recording and State oversight of relevant husbandry data (e.g., mortality rate, stocking density and water quality)

5

Moratorium on the construction of industrial salmon farms

Organisations

In collaboration with fair-fish

Supporting organisations

Starting point

Many of fish’s cognitive abilities often match or exceed that of other vertebrates. Most aquatic species feel pain. However, fish also exhibit signs of cooperation and altruism, along with various cognitive capacities, including the capacity for pleasure – particularly through playful behaviour. Given the growing evidence of fish sentience, we believe that these animals must be equipped with the same level of protection as any other vertebrate.

Aquaculture  – as it is currently industrially operated – raises significant moral concerns. Despite scientific evidence of fish intelligence, they are still …

… deprived of the protection that they deserve. For example, the natural behaviour of salmon is very restricted in industrial farms. In nature, they swim for hundreds of kilometres as they go from freshwater to saltwater. In farms, this change is shortened and determined artificially – which can lead to the death of these fish.

At Sentience, we believe that our society has a moral duty to give more weight to the interests of non-human animals. This is why, through our petition, we are calling for enhanced legal protection of fish, as well as improved husbandry practices in aquaculture.

Challenges

Swiss law takes far too little account of fish welfare. The breeding of perch and zander, which is quickly expanding in Switzerland, is not addressed in legislation. Moreover, many fish species currently bred, such as salmon, are unsuitable for such practices. Switzerland also lacks adequate regulations for species-appropriate aquaculture practices; notably the absence of requirements for breeding systems, a standard for all other farmed animals in Switzerland.

Although a permit is required for fish farming, complete novices can …

… build a breeding system and wait to see whether it works. There is no focus on the welfare of fish and, although the farm is in operation, there are insufficient official controls. When it comes to fish welfare, aquaculture conditions pose serious ethical concerns. Everything is designed to maximise production, which puts these aquatic animals under a lot of stress.

We urgently need to expand the legal protection of fish in aquaculture. It is crucial to act now, especially when it comes to the construction of new salmon farms. Therefore, we demand stricter regulations from policymakers for the construction and maintenance of new facilities.

Solutions

At Sentience, we have identified urgent opportunities for improvement regarding the welfare of fish in aquaculture. Firstly, only the breeding of fish suitable for aquaculture should be permitted. Secondly, fish’s living conditions in aquaculture must be greatly enhanced. Thirdly, aquaculture facilities must be better regulated by experts.

Consumers, YOU, are part of the solution as well. One significant contribution to improving animal welfare in aquaculture is, for example, the purchase of plant-based alternatives to animal products, or the conscious renunciation of fish from problematic production. Additionally, by signing our petition, you contribute to improving the situation. Whilst a single signature may feel like nothing, a well-supported petition serves as a powerful demonstration of your concern and commitment to protecting fish.

Sign our petition now, and help us in protecting fish.

Kampagne Unsichtbare Tiere

This petition is part of the “Invisible Animals” campaign

The “Invisible Animals” campaign has emerged from the understanding that the interests and needs of pigeons, rats, bees and fish receive little to no attention, both politically and socially.

The goal of our campaign is to bring the daily suffering of these animals into the spotlight because, at Sentience, we are convinced that even minor adjustments to the political framework can have a significant positive effect: for the animals, the environment as well as public health.

Together, we can make the suffering of “invisible” animals visible and ensure that their interests receive stronger political consideration now and in the future. It all starts with your signature.