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Factory Farms of the Sea

When we imagine salmon in their natural habitat, we think of the freedom they experience and the vast distances they travel. We think of their determination to swim upstream, their instincts so strong they can even climb waterfalls! We think of their amazing ability to adapt from fresh water to salt water. We think of them this way because that is what nature intended.

Sadly, just beneath the pristine waters of New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds and Stewart Island, millions of salmon are subjected to a lifetime of misery and suffering in overcrowded, underwater factory farms. This callous farming practice no place in Aotearoa, and together, we can put a stop to it.

SAFE is calling on the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and the associate Minister for Agriculture (Animal Welfare) to action a ban on fish factory farming in New Zealand, as a matter of urgency.

Urge NAWAC and the Minister for Animal Welfare to ban fish factory farming

Fishes are recognised as sentient in New Zealand law and are owed protection under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Yet, over a million fishes are trapped on salmon farms in Aotearoa, stressed, depressed and swimming in circles.
High mortality rates, poor water quality, bone deformities and overcrowding are just some of the issues affecting farmed fishes.
Please email NAWAC and the Minister for Animal Welfare using the form below (or overwrite the pre-written email with your own message) to advocate for a ban on fish factory farming as a matter of urgency.
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Factory farms of the sea

It’s easy for the salmon industry to hide the truth about the animals suffering on their farms. Many Kiwis won’t know that millions of salmon are confined in barren underwater cages, right here in Aotearoa.

Fishes are recognised under New Zealand law as sentient. This means they are capable of suffering and are deserving of welfare protection. Despite this, salmon in Aotearoa are farmed in horrific conditions that expose them to welfare issues such as overcrowding, heat distress, and astoundingly high mortality rates.

Fishes are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Despite this, the industry continues to farm salmon in conditions that breach their legal rights with seemingly no intervention from the authorities.

The only way to protect the legal rights of salmon is to ban salmon farming in New Zealand for good.

High mortality

The mortality rates for New Zealand farmed salmon are shocking. King Salmon (New Zealand’s largest producer of farmed salmon) regularly reports mortality rates of over 20% every year. In 2022, King Salmon’s predicted profits were revised down approximately 40% due to mass salmon deaths.

Poor water quality and high temperatures, disease, skin lesions, the inability to escape danger and the stress of handling are contributing factors to these grim statistics. No farming industry in Aotearoa should be allowed to operate when the rates of suffering and death are this high.

Overcrowding

Currently, there is no legal maximum ‘stocking density’ to provide guidance to fish farmers. In a single sea cage, tens of thousands of salmon are crammed into a space that equates to only a bathtub’s worth of water per salmon.

Overcrowding has been shown to increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels and mortality rates in salmon.

Stressed and depressed

“It is common on salmon farms to find as many as a quarter of individuals with stunted growth and abnormal behaviour, often floating lifelessly at the surface of the tank. They are described as ‘losers’ or ‘drop-outs’ and until recently the cause was unknown.  

 

A recent study showed that the behaviours and brain chemistry of these salmon was similar to those seen in stressed and depressed mammals. They are unable to cope with the level of constant and inescapable stress, and essentially give up on life.” –  Brown, Culum and Dorey, Catherine, Pain and Emotion in Fishes – Fish Welfare Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Animal Studies Journal, 8(2), 2019, 175-201

Inability to escape dangers

Heat stress is causing major harm to New Zealand farmed fishes. As our oceans heat up, farmed salmon are trapped, unable to swim to the safety of cooler waters.

Between December 2021 and February 2022, New Zealand King Salmon dumped 1269 tonnes of dead fish in 160 trips to the landfill, after a hot summer caused salmon to die in alarmingly high numbers. This devastating loss of life should never have been allowed to happen.

A ban on fish farming must be actioned, before another disaster like this occurs. Take action ­– contact the Minister for Animal Welfare and NAWAC today and demand an end to intensive fish farming in New Zealand.

You can be an advocate for these amazing animals!

Fishes are recognised as sentient in New Zealand law and are owed protection under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.Yet, over a million fishes are trapped on salmon farms in Aotearoa, stressed, depressed and swimming in circles.

High mortality rates, poor water quality, bone deformities and overcrowding are just some of the issues affecting farmed fishes.

Please email NAWAC and the Minister for Animal Welfare using the form below (or overwrite the pre-written email with your own message) to advocate for a ban on fish factory farming as a matter of urgency.

Name(Required)
Opt-in

 

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