SPCA New Zealand
Animal Advocacy

Position Statements

Commercial Fishing

SPCA supports ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management that identify effects on ecosystems and the welfare of target and non-target species.

Fish are sentient beings, with the ability to feel pain and suffer and experience positive welfare states. They should be awarded the same level of consideration and protection that we give to other vertebrate animals. Currently, there are minimal welfare requirements around how wild fish are caught and no requirements around how they are slaughtered. SPCA advocates for compulsory regulation for the design and use of all types of fishing equipment, with specific attention being given to the provision of escape mechanisms and other strategies to reduce by-catch of non-target species and protection against the negative consequences of nets throughout the ocean, such as damage to habitat.

SPCA advocates for the use of electronic monitoring systems on fishing vessels to document fishing events and record catch data.

SPCA is concerned with the current transparency and reliability of fisheries data reporting of target and non-target animals and the low level of on-board observer coverage.

SPCA opposes destructive fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, which result in the indiscriminate capture of non-target species (e.g., marine mammals, birds, and non-target fish species).

The impact of the capture process on marine mammals, sea birds, fish and invertebrate bycatch, benthic environments and habitats will differ with choice of fishing gear and fishing behaviour. Change in fishing behaviour (e.g., changes in areas fished and/or gear configurations) and improvements in fishing gear (e.g., increased mesh sizes, escape grids and panels) can help to increase selectivity of target species and decrease bycatch of non-target species.

SPCA would like for all people who fish to act responsibly in relation to their impact on the environment and animals, including ensuring proper maintenance and decontamination of fishing vessels and disposing of fishing gear. SPCA supports efforts to encourage returning or recycling fishing gear rather than littering, such as improving traceability of fishing gear and refundable deposits schemes.

SPCA advocates for fish to only be killed after they have been humanely stunned.

For slaughter to be humane, fish must be stunned to induce unconsciousness and remain stunned until death occurs. SPCA advocates for the use of electrical and percussive stunning as the most humane methods of stunning, where stunning parameters are based on scientific recommendations. Our organisation advocates for the use of in-water, group stunning of fish, to prevent taking fish out of water or isolation distress.

To ensure death, non-fatal stunning must be immediately followed by a killing method e.g., the severing of all gill arches on at least one side of the head, preferably both sides, to enable the fastest possible blood loss. Our organisation supports research to improve the humaneness of stunning and slaughter methods for commercially caught fish.

SPCA opposes inhumane methods of stunning and slaughter of commercially caught fish.

SPCA opposes killing fish through practices such as asphyxia in air or ice, hypothermia in ice-water slurry, bleeding without stunning, immersion in water containing high concentrations of carbon dioxide, decapitation and salt or ammonia baths.

SPCA opposes the processing (e.g., gutting, filleting, or freezing) of live fish. Our organisation is also opposed to the sale of live fish for food at markets.

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