Animal welfare matters. All sentient animals used for food deserve compassion, and killing should be as humane as possible.

Bull sharks and pilot fish

The sentience of fish has huge ethical implications for the way they are caught and killed in fisheries.
Credit: Fiona Ayerst.

Commercially-caught wild fish suffer slow and distressing deaths in huge numbers, estimated at 1-3* trillion each year. Commercial fishing is therefore a major animal welfare issue. is a website to increase understanding of fish sentience, raise awareness and promote solutions to the suffering of fishes in commercial fishing. It also aims to increase awareness of the welfare issues in fish farming.

“The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but, ‘Can they suffer?’”
                                                                                       Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832).

Key resources on this website include:

  1. The report Worse things happen at sea: the welfare of wild-caught fish which:
    1. Provides the first detailed analysis of the fish welfare impacts of commercial fishing
    2. Describes the first systematic estimate of the number of fish caught
    3. Proposes measures to mitigate poor welfare through changes to fishing practice during capture and killing and by reducing levels of fishing for feed and food.
  2. Study to estimate numbers of fish caught globally each year. Download pdf here.
  3. Study to estimate numbers of farmed fish killed each year with discussion of the welfare issues in fish farming. Download pdf here.
  4. New presentation (issued August 2013). Download pdf here: The welfare of fish in commercial fishing.

Worse things happen at sea
downloads and links:

full report

Summary report

Executive summary  (pdf 53 KB) 6 pages

Summary report  (pdf 1,480 KB) 49 pages

Full report  (pdf 4,440 KB) 141 pages

See publications for a full list of our publications. Lower and higher resolution versions of this report are available there and some chapters may be downloaded individually.

See updates email list to receive details of future publications.


full report

Full report

See Fish: the forgotten victims on our plate by Peter Singer in The Guardian and in translation.

The summary report is available in a German adaptation by the Swiss fish welfare organisation fair-fish.

Extracts of the full report are now available in French






 *Estimated at 0.98 to 2.7 trillion on average each year for 1999-2007 and 0.79 to 2.3 trillion on average each year for 2007-2016