Investigation shows Scottish salmon slaughterhouse killing fully conscious fish

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Animal Equality has released footage from an undercover investigation, revealing how fully conscious fish are killed in a salmon slaughterhouse in Scotland.

Newly released undercover footage by Animal Equality shows completely conscious fish being killed in a Scottish salmon slaughterhouse.

The animal protection organisation’s investigation offered a rare glimpse into fish-killing, with the footage showing a facility in Arnish, Isle of Lewis. It’s operated by the Scottish Salmon Company. a supplier to supermarkets Waitrose and Co-op.

A first-of-a-kind footage for the UK, one can witness “several extremely serious animal welfare abuses” according to the researchers examining the footage. A “significant number” of salmon were killed in the slaughterhouse while fully conscious.

The investigation documented numerous animals displaying consciousness after a failure to stun, which was evidenced by flapping, wriggling and gasping motions. The salmon’s gills were cut without prior stunning, causing pain, and some fish were being re-stunned with a club after their gills were cut, causing blood to spray from their gills and defeating the purpose of pre-bleed stunning.

The salmon was clubbed multiple times, some as many as seven, and the gills were torn with workers’ fingers, rather than a scalpel. Additionally, on occasion, a large number of animals fell to the floor and were left to suffocate.

70 world-leading aquatic animal specialists, welfare academics and animal protection organisations have joined hands to pen an open letter to address the issue. Coordinated by Animal Equality UK, the letter urges British ministers to put specific and meaningful protections for fish and other aquatic animals at the time of death, which includes requiring legal training and frequent on-site inspections.

Up to 77 million fish are raised and slaughtered every year in the UK. Scotland itself is the world’s third-largest producer of farmed salmon, behind Norway and Chile.

Abigail Penny, executive director of Animal Equality UK, said: “The government has a responsibility to farmed animals and this is an unmissable opportunity to make a landmark change. With every day the government fails to act, thousands of fish are at risk of dying in agony.”

She added: “It’s shocking that animals slaughtered at The Scottish Salmon Company struggle like this, all for their flesh to be stacked and sold on supermarket shelves. Concerned consumers can act today by leaving fish off their plate entirely.”

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.