Marine Animals Deserve Protection


It recently came to my attention through an article from Direct Action Everywhere’s blog that fish are underrepresented in the animal rights movement, even though they are exploited, abused, and killed in numbers that tower over that of any other animal species. It is estimated that 2.77 trillion marine animals are killed each year for food, even before counting the non-target marine life that is killed in the process. To put this in perspective, for every 1 land animal that is killed, 46 marine animals are killed.

The slaughter of fish is extremely cruel and violent. There are no welfare standards for fish during slaughter. Fish are often left to asphyxiate, or are left in a bath of ice water to die slowly and painfully. They may be struck on the head, cut, or even skinned, gutted, and decapitated while fully conscious. Crustaceans such a crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are often boiled alive.

Why are marine animals so widely ignored?  I think the reason is because it is difficult for humans to empathize with them. They live in water, but we live on land, immediately placing a barrier between us. Land mammals such as pigs and cows are similar to the cats and dogs we treat like family, so it is much easier for people to show compassion towards them. However, most people cannot connect with fish and crustaceans in the same way.

Marine animals have no voice. When we hear the tortured cries of pigs, cows, and chickens, we immediately understand the suffering they experience. But fish, even when being skinned and dismembered alive, can only open and close their mouths. Their screams are silent to us.

It is time to listen to their screams and respond.  We must fight our tendency to minimize the suffering of those who look the most different from us. Though they are housed in different bodies, speak different languages, and live a different lifestyle, they are alike in their ability to feel pain and fear, which is all that matters. It is one’s capacity to suffer, and nothing else, that should determine the way we treat them. Killing a fish is no different from killing a chicken, pig, or cow.

Gandhi said, “The more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” Of the animals we commonly slaughter for food, none are more helpless than marine animals. Pulled from their environments and unable to even breathe or emit a sound, they have no escape or defense against death. Marine animals deserve our protection, recognition, and attention more than anyone. Their lives matter. Their pain matters. It is time to recognize the suffering of marine animals as equal to that of other animals exploited for food.




7 thoughts on “Marine Animals Deserve Protection

  1. Aw, I don’t see why people don’t empathize more with marine animals. Salmon work so darn hard to swim up stream each season, and dolphins are definitely one of the smartest, loveliest creatures. I do agree, not enough time is given to their plight, and the plight of the oceans. Nice post.


  2. The numbers are staggering.You raise a good point that as land based inhabitants we distance ourselves from ocean life, also prevailing misinformation that fish do not experience suffering and pain. Great post, Leila.


  3. JohannaAlenaxo says:

    This is so true! Even fellow vegans have a problem with those who speak out against cruelty towards fish. Recently a vegan told me that it’s “petty” to tell people that fishing is cruel when there is REAL cruelty being done against dogs & pigs. And that it’s basically pointless to say anything about it at all.

    Poor marine animal’s being ignored even by those who are supposedly against animal cruelty. There’s no difference. The value of an animals life is not dependant on what they can do for humans or how human’s feel about them personally.

    Whether we bond with them or not – it’s not our right to take their lives from them. Anywhoo thanks so much for posting this.


    • So well said, thank you! It’s crazy that vegans, those who should be against speciesism, would say that fishing is not cruel. Fish definitely do deserve to live just as much as other animals do. I’m glad you enjoyed my post! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s