The images in the following program are highly sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about cruelty to animals, praying that you will help to stop it.

HOST: This is the Stop Animal Cruelty series on Supreme Master Television. This week we examine the immense suffering inflicted upon fish by the fishing industry which includes fish farms or aquaculture. Each year billions of fish across the globe are hooked or mercilessly trapped in huge nets and then ripped away from their ocean or freshwater homes.

Eddie Garza(m): In industrial seafood production, massive trawling nets drag sea life from out of the ocean, which can cause extreme pressure changes for fish, and can potentially rupture their swim bladders which are essential for buoyancy.

HOST: In the United States alone, approximately 8.4 billion fish are killed each year for food. More than 40% of these animals have been raised on land or ocean-based aquafarms, undergoing an utterly agonizing existence until they are killed.

Nathan Runkle(m): Fish are just as sentient and just as capable of suffering as any land animal is. They have the same capacity to suffer and deserve protection as well. And we're at a crucial point right now with dwindling populations of fish and this is largely due to overfishing and huge trawler nets which essentially clearcut [means removing everything] the ocean of all of their life, sweeping up everyone and everything in their path, because these nets are indiscriminate.

And factory farming is taking place with fish as well. These animals are being confined in crowding concrete troughs and they're having infections and all sorts of welfare problems as well.

HOST: Truly run like a factory, thousands of fish are jammed into small ponds, concrete tanks, or mesh cages. Sometimes there may be as many as 25 large, adult fish in an enclosure about the size of a bathtub, where they must swim and breathe in utterly filthy water filled with their own excrement.

The obscene conditions mean parasitic infections and diseases like Columnaris, which ravages a fish's gills, skin and fins and is the leading cause of death for farmed fish in the US, run rampant in the imprisoned population.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says as much as 40% of farmed fish die before they can be slaughtered. Finally, near the end of their stay at the aquafarm, the helpless fish are starved for several days. This is done to keep the water less polluted while they are transported to a slaughter facility to be heartlessly massacred.

The state of Texas is the largest producer of farm-raised catfish in the US. In the fall of 2010, Mercy for Animals, a US-based non-profit animal advocacy organization conducted an undercover investigation at a fish processing center in Texas. What the group's investigator found was absolutely shocking.

Supreme Master TV (m): Tell us about some of the investigations that Mercy for Animals has done recently.

Eddie Garza(m): Mercy for Animals conducted an undercover investigation between September and December of 2010, at a fish slaughter facility in Mesquite just east of Dallas (Texas, USA). At this facility, our undercover investigator documented workers slicing the skin off of live fish, tearing their fins apart, their tails, before ultimately beheading the animals while they were still fully conscious.

These are egregious acts that, if this type of pain were to be inflicted on a dog or cat, they could be fined and potentially incarcerated.

HOST: The footage reveals a grisly and sickening operation where fish are nearly suffocated, skinned and then dismembered all the while aware of the excruciating torture they are undergoing. The peaceful animals were clearly in enormous pain and constantly thrashed about and struggled to escape while the workers brutally severed their fins and ripped their skin off using pliers.

Employees repeatedly sliced live catfish with sharp knives and then brutally cut them in half. Without hesitation they routinely tore the heads off of live fish. The victims who were next in line to be murdered languished in buckets and baskets; their mouths opening and closing repeatedly as they asphyxiated from a lack of water.
[ to die from a lack of oxygen]

Skinned Alive:

Cruel Catfish Slaughter Exposed 『Fish have the capacity to experience pain and suffering, like all animals.』 Dr. Lee Schrader, Veterinarian The fish are not stunned or rendered unconscious prior to being skinned alive.

A: You want to clean fish alive.

B: Clean them alive?

A: Yeah.

『This procedure offers a slow, painful, prolonged death to the fish.』 Dr. Debra Teachout, Veterinarian. 『Handling such as that shown in this footage is extremely cruel and heartless and should be outlawed immediately.』 Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, Animal Behaviorist. Forgo Fish Choose Vegan. Mercy for Animals

HOST: Upon viewing the footage, veterinarian Dr. Lee Schrader stated, 『To subject fish to an obviously painful procedure such as the removal of their skin, while they are alive and responsive, is cruel, inhumane and without excuse.』

Currently in the United States there are no laws which protect fish from cruelty or abuse, either in aquafarms or during their subsequent brutal slaughter. Mercy for Animals is striving to have fish protection laws enacted in Texas and has provided evidence of the ongoing carnage at the Texas fish processing facility to members of the state's legislature.

Eddie Garza(m): We submitted all of our documentation, including all of the undercover footage taken by our investigator, and filed an official complaint with the Dallas County District Attorney's (DA's) office. Unfortunately the DA's office declined to prosecute because the state of Texas does not protect fish. In fact there are no federal laws that protect fish either.

Supreme Master TV (m): Has Mercy for Animals taken any action to try to get laws changed?

Eddie Garza(m): We did reach out to all of our Texas state legislators, and asked them to enact new laws that would protect fish from this type of egregious cruelty.

Eddie Garza(m): At this point we have not heard from the Texas legislature, but we are committed to fighting this tirelessly. ((m): Yes.)

HOST: In a study published in the science journal Nature, researchers concluded that the fishing industry is rapidly decimating oceanic ecosystems, with the industry having annihilated 90% of the stocks of large ocean fish in just the past 50 years. In one type of commercial fishing called bottom trawling, gigantic nets the size of a football field are dragged along the ocean floor, sweeping up not only fish, but many other forms of fragile marine life.

Supreme Master TV (m): What are the effects of global industrial fishing?

Eddie Garza(m): The effects are that we're not only killing fish, but other sea life also. Dolphins, turtles, and other beautiful sea creatures are unfortunately also victims of industrial seafood production.

HOST: What about the practice of catching fish just for so-called 『sport?』 When a hook impales a fish through his eye, mouth or cheek, he experiences unbearable agony.

Lynne Sneddon (f): If you accept that fish are capable of pain and fear and stress, you have to accept that if you are simply catching a fish for your own enjoyment, you are potentially causing pain and fear to that fish. And it's been proven that the fish is very stressed, they can suffer mortality and that their subsequent behavior can be affected after they've been released.

Eddie Garza(m): We do know that fish have brains, a central nervous system and nerve endings. These animals have nociceptors which are receptors on the skin that are physiologically similar to the forebrain and midbrain of mammals. And these recent studies suggest that on our video where you saw the fish flopping around in pain were deliberate attempts to escape the workers' blades.

HOST: Fish are sensitive and intelligent, enjoy each other's company and have good memories. They also talk to each other with low-frequency sounds that humans can hear only with special instruments.

Dr. Theresa Burt de Perera, a research scientist at Oxford University, UK states, 『We're now finding that [fish] are very capable of learning and remembering, and possess a range of cognitive skills that would surprise many people.』

How can each of us help to stop the atrocities inflicted upon our fish friends? According to Eddie Garza and Mercy for Animals, there is one simple solution.

Eddie Garza(m): We want to let people know that they should forgo fish, and choose a vegan diet as the best way to help prevent animal cruelty.

Supreme Master TV (m): Do you have stories you can tell us about people who have been moved to become vegan since they have seen the work of Mercy for Animals?

Eddie Garza(m): Absolutely. We receive emails every single day from people who have decided to choose vegetarian. If I look on the database right now, you'll see several new people who've popped up requesting vegetarian starter kits. People want to know, people have been kept largely in the dark all this time.

And we are here to let them know that there is a better way. (I see) They can change their diet to help the planet, to help animals, and to improve their own health.

HOST: Mercy for Animals is actively raising public awareness about the violent slaughter of fish and other animals by the animal agriculture industry as well as encouraging people to adopt an animal-free diet.

Eddie Garza(m): We do have a lot of outreach events going on daily. Today I've got two interns out in bustling downtown Dallas (Texas, USA), handing out vegetarian literature, inspiring people to make the compassionate choice to be vegetarian.

This afternoon they're also reaching out to some high school students that are at the right age to be able to make choices and really understand that the food that they are consuming is really making a big impact on the entire world.

We also have a lot of different campaigns on the weekends; we've got vegan food giveaways, where we let people try different vegetarian food items, letting them know that they don't have to support animal cruelty to enjoy tasty snacks.

Supreme Master TV(m): What direction is the world going, as far as how we treat animals?

Eddie Garza(m): We are absolutely moving forward; 10 years ago we wouldn't think about campaigns ending battery cages. [small cages in which egg-laying hens are put] And today it's widely accepted that the battery cages should be outlawed nationwide, the public vote says that. We are asking that people now consider the plight of fish.

Eddie Garza(m): Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet!

HOST: Mercy for Animals and Eddie Garza, we are grateful for your enlightened efforts to inform the public about the cruelty of the fishing industry. Through your benevolent work, you are saving the lives of countless gentle fish and other animals. It is beautiful to see that your initiatives are helping humanity to live in greater harmony with other beings. Mercy For Animals, we wish you every success in all your ongoing and future animal advocacy endeavors.

For more information on fish cruelty, please visit