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To add interest I have interspersed this commentary with thought provoking quotations from philosophers, ethicists, scientists and other notable thinkers both past and present.

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.

St. Francis of Assisi

Animals are our younger brothers and sisters, also on the ladder of evolution but a few rungs lower. It is an important part of our responsibilities to help them in their ascent, and not to retard their development by cruel exploitation of their helplessness.

Lord Dowding

Here I will focus my attention on fish and Crustaceans particularly lobsters as it is these creatures who are mostly exploited as food, other aquatic animals will be included in due course. However keep in mind in the catching of fish and lobsters many other aquatic animals suffer and die as a consequence as you can read further down.


You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


There are more species of fish than all other vertebrates
(animals with a back bone), combined, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.

Fish have a nervous system and like you and I feel pain

Fish are hugely diverse, they are found in a wide range of habitats as diverse as hot springs, rivers, ponds and vast oceans in depths of over 7,000 metres, they are highly evolved and like you and I they are complex animals with the ability to feel pain and distress. Fish have been evolving for over 400 million years, longer than we have and have acquired some remarkable abilities. To gather information fish have evolved specialized sensory organs. Evolution has equipped fish to monitor temperature, light, water currents and vibrations to name just a few of their remarkable abilities.

Researchers have discovered that fish are fast learners and have the amazing ability to carry mental maps around in their heads and can retain memories for months. In his book Pleasurable Kingdoms Jonathan Balcombe describes the incredible memory of the frillfin goby which lives in rook tide-pools when the tide is high:

"If a rock pool begins to dry up these fish leap to an adjacent pool. Obviously, a missed leap might be fatal, and the accuracy must be great in both terms of distance and direction. How do frillfin gobies do this being as they cannot see the adjacent pool? They memorise the topography of the rocks during high tide. Captive fish showed a marked improvement in orientation after an overnight opportunity to swim over the pools during an artificial high tide.  Removing the gobies from their home tide pools for various periods of time before retesting their jumping ability showed that their memory of familiar pools lasted about 40 days. Thanks to these mental capacities, gobies caught in a shallow depression avoid having to make a pure leap of faith."

Fish are truly amazing creatures when you get to know them, they are sentient, aware, intelligent, but most importantly they feel pain.

Often though cruelty to fish is overlooked.

“Fish constitute the greatest source of confused thinking and inconsistency on earth at the moment with respect to pain.

“You will get people very excited about dolphins because they are mammals, and about horses and dogs, if they are not treated properly. At the same time you will have fishing competitions on the River Murray at which thousands of people snare fish with hooks and allow them to asphyxiate on the banks, which is a fairly uncomfortable and miserable death”

Professor Bill Runciman
Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care
Adelaide University quoted in Animals Australia The voice for Animals' website
Fishing // Animals Australia

Despite the fact that the majority of people have at least had some basic biology taught to them at school there are sadly many people who do not realise that a fish is an animal, that fish like humans and other animals feel pain.  It is at times difficult enough to get people to understand that land animals feel pain and have the capacity to suffer and therefore should not be treated as commodities for exploitation and as a source of food. However the moment the subject of fish is mentioned many people without even thinking it through will say fish do not have feelings, they are cold blooded,  they do not feel pain. I recall a friend of mine saying much the same thing, somehow she had got it into her mind that because it is said, and widely accepted, that fish do not have feelings in their mouths when the fisherman's hook sinks in, that in general fish do not have feelings, are not sentient or experience pain or suffering. To begin with this first assumption is erroneous, in fact fish are particularly well supplied with pain specific nerves endings in their mouth and lips, therefore the fisherman's hook is indeed very painful. Scientists who study pain are in complete agreement that fish have a similar response to pain as we do; the pain response of fish is basically identical to that in mammals and birds.

The British Farm Animal Welfare Council reports:
“The fact that fish are cold-blooded does not prevent them from having a pain system and, indeed, such a system is valuable in preserving life and maximising the biological fitness of individuals.”

The problem with the term cold blooded also presents the uninformed with some confusion, which leads many to think that fish and other sea creatures do not feel pain. The term cold blooded is really an inaccuracy as at times a so called cold blooded animal's blood temperate may well be warmer than your own. The term means that the animals blood temperate varies according to his surroundings. For instance reptiles such as lizards are often seen in the morning warming themselves in the sun and until their body temperature raises due to the sun's warm they are sluggish. Fish in tropical waters will most certainly have a higher body temperature. Cold blooded than simply refers to an animal whose blood temperate varies in accordance with the temperature of their environment.

However the whole misconception of warm or cold blooded is in any case a misnomer, it is irrelevant as the feelings of pain arise from the brain and the central nervous system.  Hot or cold blooded, fish and other sea creatures feel pain. Fish have a brain and a nervous system anatomically similar to ourselves and other mammals; a single nerve cord runs along the spinal cord and complex nerves which allow the creature to feel as much pain as you or I. As already mentioned there are, contrary to popular belief, a good supply of nerves at both the lips and mouth, a fact fishermen fishing with a line and hook conveniently ignore.

For scientific evidence read about recent research by scientists from the Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh:

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Fish do feel pain, scientists say

Of note is the following observation:  "Fish demonstrated a 'rocking' motion, strikingly similar to the kind of motion seen in stressed higher vertebrates like mammals." Rocking back wards and forwards is a common indication of stress in humans.

Research has show that fish avoid painful stimuli, this suggests that pain causes them stress that they wish to avoid. Like other animals in circumstances of confinement in captivity fish exhibit abnormal behaviours indicating stress and distress.

Fish are like other animals sentient, they have conscious awareness.

Fish are intelligent creatures, research shows they can use tools, they have long term memories of at least three or four months and live in complex socials structures.  Here is what a specialist in fish behaviour has to say about the abilities of fish:

Fish are more intelligent than they appear. In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates including non-human primates
Culum Brown University of Edinburgh

For more information about fish intelligence and sentience: See: Sentience in Farm Animals: Aquatic Animals

In view of mounting evidence we can no longer allow fish to be treated in the inhumane horrendously cruel way they are treated at present.

Yet despite these facts not much thought is given even by some animal lovers and those interested in animal rights to the pain,  suffering and abuse of these creatures by the fishing industry and by recreational fishing. Countless billions of fish are killed each year, world wide the numbers are staggering.  During both commercial and recreational fishing much suffering takes place as fully conscious fish are impaled, crushed, sliced open gutted and suffocated.

Such methods of killing fish are shockingly cruel and would not be allowed to happen by law under the protection of animal welfare acts, if the animal in question was your dog or cat.  Always keep in mind that fish feel the same pain as your pet.

Eighty to 100 million tonnes of fish are caught each year, I don't like to lump these creature into tonnage for each fish is an individual as are you and I but sadly this is the way that these statistics are measured. In the USA it is estimated that the number of aquatic animals caught for food is a staggering 15 billion tonnes! Most of the fish caught in UK waters are herring, cod, jacks, redfish and mackerel. There are of course a good number of fresh water species of fish which are farmed or fished such as salmon and trout.

Sea fish are caught in drift nets which measure an astonishing 40 KMs long! These huge nets are not of course discriminatory and along with the unfortuante fish which you may eat at your locale restaurant or have with your chips, other sea creatures get caught in these nets.  Among them include, sea turtles, dolphins, porpoises, rays, sharks, even small whales and diving sea birds and indeed any number of species of fish and other sea creatures such as shell fish, crabs, starfish, every conceivable type of  creature you can imagine. all of which are not wanted.  Many fish are crushed to death under the weight of the catch including many of the creatures who are not wanted but who were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught in these nets.

When the nets are bought to the surface all of these animals termed " by catch" mostly now dead are shovelled back into the sea. Those still alive fall pry to flocks of scavenging  birds or slowly bleed to death in the water or die of their injuries. Shrimp catches may result in the throwing away of 85 percent of the "by catch". it is estimated that as many as 1000 sea  mammals die each day as a result of being caught in fishing nets.

The fish that died under the crush of thier fellows where perhaps more fortunate, at least in comparison to what happens to those who are still alive.  Those that arrive on the decks who have survived the crush are either left to suffocate; plaice can struggle for life gasping for air for many hours and are filleted or disembowelled whilst still alive.

Many fish are caught which are not edible for humans, but which are used for purposes other that eating. This is a growing sector of industrial fishing where such species as sand eels and ling are caught to provide fish oil or used  as high protein live stock or salmon feed or as fertilizer.

Keep in mind that of course the UK is not the only nation to decimate the ocean's aquatic life. The USA have commercial trawlers the size of football fields which can remain at sea for six months at a time, they are equipped with the latest tracking devices to track fish and other sea creatures, tens of thousands in one net, which like the UK are many metres long, the unfortunate creatures thus caught may be dragged long the sea bottom for hours before being killed.

Commercial fishing is big business and the methods used to catch and kill these creatures are just as cruel and cause as much suffering in there own way as that suffered by land animals in factory farms and slaughter houses. There is though even less compassion for fish, workers in these industries see fish as inanimate, no different than a vegetable and they are as a consequence treated with no regard to the pain and suffering experienced by these animals. There are no regulations whatsoever, fishermen are able to do cart blanch whatsoever they wish. Yet we now know that fish suffer as do we and other animals, they are conscious aware beings who feel pain, fear and distress; imagine just  for a moment the enormity of suffering inflicted on these sea creatures

As billions of aquatic creatures are killed every year our oceans have become decimated, 90 percent of fish populations have been exterminated in the past 50 years!

Fish do not escape the horrors of factory farming either. Many people including myself are amazed at the number of factory fish farms which we have here in the UK which number between 1,000 to 15000.These farms mainly rear trout and salmon. These fish are an expensive food, there is a good profit in trout and salmon. As many as 20,000 young salmon are crammed into freshwater tanks measuring between four and ten metres in diameter. Like factory farmed land animals fish are given antibiotics: after a year to eighteen months of age they are taken to lochs and estuary cages where they are injected with antibiotics to control disease. They are also regularly treated with pesticides to kill of sea lice. Nonetheless despite this excessive use of chemicals about 20 to 50 per cent die of disease such as cancer and liver failure.

For two weeks prior to being killed they are starved. This cruelty is undertaken simply for the convenience of the workers because it is less messy to remove the intestines of a fish that has not eaten. Finally after two weeks of suffering starvation their wretched lives are brought to an end as they are killed whilst still conscious by being cut across the gills with a sharp knife.

There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.

Isaac Bashevis Singer

As individuals there is one way to help bring about change and that is to stop eating fish and other aquatic creatures. There are a number of campaigns you can support. For ideas, campaigns, petitions and more information please visit the following websites There are several articles on VIVA you will however need to enter fish in the search field

Crustacean Compassion

Campaigning for the humane treatment of crabs, lobsters and other decapod crustaceans in the UK.

Fishing // Animals Australia

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Photo Credit Jumping Rainbow Trout by flikr user Qmnonic  jumping rainbow trout on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic delete



It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
Mark Twain

“Lobsters are remarkable, sophisticated creatures.”
Marine biologist Jelle Atema

We should of course not forget the enormous suffering of one creature who is cooked alive! The lobster.

First some fascinating facts about an amazing but little understood creature.

A lobster is an inverterbrate crustacean.

Lobsters may live as long as 100 years, prior to the rise of the lobster industry lobsters where thought to have lived as long as 145 years.

In a similar way to dolphins lobsters use complex signals to explore their environment and also to establish social relationships.

Lobsters carry their young for none months, their off spring have a long childhood and adolescence. In their natural habitat and circumstances, older lobsters have been observed leading the young walking claw in claw.

Four times each year they shed their hard outer shell and grow a new one.  Only after she has shed her shell can a female lobster mate.

Lobsters are able to regenerate legs, claws, and antennae. Lobsters like us are either lift or right handed, that is a lobster's crusher claw can be either on the left or the right.

Lobsters are remarkable creatures, with highly developed senses, for instance with thier antennae they can smell chemicals in the water, they Taste with sensory hairs along their legs.  Lobsters can both emit and detect low frequency sound. They are indeed sophisticated animals highly adapted to determine changes in their environment. 

Most importantly they have pain receptors and have complex nervous systems.  In short lobsters feel pain, they cry out when they are put into boiling water and frantically thrash their bodies and scrape the sides of the cooking pot in a desperate bid to escape.

Surely this is enough to convince anyone that this creature is in pain as he is boiled alive! If this is not enough to convince you, you may be surprised to know that in fact most scientists agree that a lobster’s nervous system is quite complex. Below are comments by leading scientists:

Neurobiologist Tom Abrams says lobsters have “a full array of senses.”

Jaren Horsley Ph.D. Invertebrate zoologist who has studied crustaceans for many years states:
'I can tell you the lobster has a sophisticated nervous system that, among other things, allows it to sense actions that will cause it harm... [Lobsters] can, I am sure, sense pain.'

In fact lobsters may feel even more pain than you would in a similar circumstance. Sometimes before cooking live lobsters are cut in half,  even sliced and diced.
Jaren G. Horsley says:
“The lobster does not have an autonomic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut. ... I think the lobster is in a great deal of pain from being cut open ... [and] feels all the pain until its nervous system is destroyed” during cooking.

This animal undergoes astonishing cruelty to provide the over privileged with an item of food that is most certainly not essential.

You would be outraged it this happened to your cat or dog, or even a chicken, pig or sheep.  Although many people seem oblivious to the cruelty of factory farmed animals this particularly heinous act of cruelty would not be permitted. Why do we allow lobsters, an equally sentient creature who also feels pain to be boiled alive. Imagine sitting in a restaurant and asking for a chicken dish and hearing the screams of your chosen chicken as he is boiled alive, well you can't can you, yet this happens to lobsters everyday, millions of them world wide. In the USA alone 20 million are caught each year. 

Lobsters are caught in a trap, each year thousand of these traps go missing. Some are fitted with a time releasing lock but many are not and the lobster is left to starve to death or die as a result of cannibalism or being washed up onto the beach

Once trapped they are hauled from their deep sea environment, their claws are than bound, they are transported to stores packed together in tanks, they are than kept in a state of semi consciousness in thermal cases until required.

Lobsters than meet the most horrific death you can imagine as they are boiled alive. Death may take from 15 seconds to as long as seven minutes.

Animal Aid in their article The Silent Suffering of Lobsters quote leading chef Gordon Ramsey who explains how killing lobsters makes him feel good.

"You always feel better after killing something. I do... stab the head off a lobster. You feel all the better for it... God knows how many I've killed... plunge them into boiling court bouillon, and their tails flip up and they scream and you can hear their claws scraping on the sides, and I got great pleasure out of that." (The Independent Magazine, 12th October 2003)
Animal Aid: The silent suffering of lobsters

Shocking isn't it that we share this world with people with such cruel inclinations, unimaginable to me how anyone can derive pleasure from such cruelty.

Contrary to what the lobster industry would have you believe the lobster does not gradually loose consciousness when water is brought to the boil slowly, in fact as already mentioned lobsters react by thrashing about, struggling violently with the increase the temperature.

Watch this shocking film if you can, very upsetting.

Exposé: Live Lobsters, Crabs Torn Apart


Dawn Carr, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Europe), says:
"For every cruel thing people do, there is a compassionate alternative.

This is most certainly the case with lobsters although experts consider that there is no humane way to kill a lobster.

The answer than is simple: do not eat them.

The information above was gleaned from a number of sources including those below where you will find more information and actions you may take.

As individuals there is at least one way to help bring about change and that is to stop eating fish and other aquatic creatures. There are a number of campaigns you can support. For ideas, campaigns, petitions and more information please visit the following websites

The life spark in my eyes is in no way different than the life spark in the eyes of any other sentient being. ~

Michael Stepaniak, quoted in Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, 1998

References and Links :

Sentience in crustaceans

Crustacean Compassion

Campaigning for the humane treatment of crabs, lobsters and other decapod crustaceans in the UK.

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Lobsters and Crabs Used for Food

Put an end to the boiling of lobsters and other crustaceans - Petition - Sign

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Credit:  Lobster photograph by flick user Bitter Girl lucky lobster on Flickr - Photo Sharing! Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic


Banner photograph by  by flick user nattu It starts right here, in Maldives on Flickr - Photo Sharing! licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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