Animal Law Review


Kelly Levenda

First Page



This Article examines the marginalization of fish under current animal welfare laws and regulations, explores the treatment of farm-raised fish during transport and slaughter, and proposes legislation and regulations in these two areas. While evidence indicates that fish are capable of experiencing pain, fear, and suffering—the traditional considerations informing concepts of animal welfare—current pre-slaughter transport and slaughter practices are completely uninformed by notions of fish welfare. Comparing the cognitive and sensory capacities of fish to other animals currently receiving animal welfare recognition through official regulation, this Article argues that protections afforded to animals during transport and slaughter should similarly apply to fish. Using the World Organization for Animal Health’s Aquatic Animal Health Code as a model, this Article proposes model legislation for fish transport: the Humane Transport of Fish Act. This legislation would supplement regulations already in place at the state and federal level, which currently pertain only to regulating the aquaculture industry and food safety. This Article also proposes amending the “Humane Methods” section of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to include the slaughter of fish, and proposes related regulations to ensure that fish are humanely slaughtered. The massive amount of fish farmed in the United States and globally each year speaks to the potential impact formal regulation could have on the improvement and protection of fish welfare.

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