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Bluefin tuna fishing cruelty exposed

The international organisation Animal Equality published the findings of a ground-breaking investigation last week, documenting the cruelty involved in the traditional bluefin tuna fishing operation known as the ‘Mattanza’. The Black Fish congratulates Animal Equality on their work, documenting for the first time ever the cruelty involved in industrial fishing so detailed.

Co-founder of The Black Fish, Wietse van der Werf: “It is about time that we started acknowledging that fish are sentient beings like all other. The science is clear on the fact that fish feel pain like all other animals, yet somehow people’s perception is still lagging very much behind. We continue to work on protecting fish and other animals from the horrors of the industrial fishing industry, of which this so-called ‘traditional’ bluefin tuna fishing is an integral part.”

The Animal Equality investigation found that fish were dragged from the ocean with giant sharp metal pick hooks and brought on-board ships. Extensive tissue damage was caused by the piercing, blunt hooks, and this is likely to have inflicted acute pain on the fish, who were still alive and conscious. Furthermore, the suspension of the tunas’ body weight caused the further tearing of tissues as a result of gravity working against the hook.

The struggling, frantic movements of the tuna whilst suspended in the air indicated that the fish were in pain and stress. Fish were observed being repeatedly stabbed with knives in the thoracic (chest) region and major arteries, causing death via exsanguination. Animals were slaughtered in the presence of conspecifics which is likely to cause additional stress.

For more information and to support Animal Equality’s campaign to end this cruelty, please visit

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