An investigation into a Maine salmon hatchery owned and operated by one of the largest seafood companies in the world, Cooke Aquaculture, has provided a behind-the-scenes look into the horrors of fish farming. Video footage captured at the hatchery by the organization Compassion Over Killing revealed salmon suffering from deformities, disease, and injuries as a result of cannibalism, as well as living conditions so filthy and overcrowded the fish have to be vaccinated. Workers were shown violently slamming fish against the ground, stomping on their heads, and tossing them into buckets to suffocate and die.
This investigation—the first of its kind—raises serious questions about the impacts of fish farming on animal welfare, a topic that has received little attention to date. There are currently no laws or regulations in place governing the care and treatment of farmed fish, leaving a limited number of state animal cruelty statutes as the only potential source of legal protection.