“This footage is alarming,” Mark Borthwick, head of research at Aquatic Life Insititute, said about the video shot at a slaughterhouse from The Scottish Salmon Company and released by the animal welfare organization Animal Equality on Saturday.
In the disturbing footage, slaughterhouse workers in Scotland are seen cutting the gills of salmon while they’re still alive. Some even pulled the gills out with their hands. After their gills are cut, the fish are hit several times on their head with a stunning device, but some fish are still moving.
Animal Equality said the process should be reversed: slaughterhouse workers should first stun the animals properly and then cut their gills. “A significant number of salmon are clearly conscious when their gills are cut, which could result in extreme pain for as long as 7 minutes,” Borthwick said about the video.
Some of the salmon fall of the line during the slaughter process and are left to die a slow death on the ground. Scientists have proven that fish feel pleasure and pain just like humans, but they have very little legal protection.
According to Animal Equality, up to 77 million fish are raised and killed every year in the United Kingdom (UK). They are urging UK governments to put in place necessary protections for fish at the time of slaughter.
In an open letter addressed to UK ministers, Animal Equality with 70 other animal welfare experts, academics and animal protection organizations, ask to extend the existing legal animal welfare rules to fish.
They specifically want governments to determine the rules for killing fish in ways that harm them the least. The footage clearly shows the fish are still suffering and the order in which they are killed is not correct.
“Scottish produce is often perceived by consumers as synonymous with ‘higher welfare’ and ‘higher quality’ practices, yet even with stunning machinery in use these processes paint a picture of chaos and confusion,” Animal Equality said.
“We take this matter extremely seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation into this historic incident. To assist our investigation we have requested full unedited film footage,” The Scottish Salmon Company told The Animal Reader in a mail.
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