Large number of fish suffering and suffocating inside a fishnet.

5 things the fishing industry doesn’t want you to know.

Fish suffer by the trillions – with every one of them being a sensitive individual who thinks and feels. And the suffering goes far beyond the fish you see at the grocery store and in restaurants.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated March 15, 2024

There are serious welfare and environmental concerns when it comes to farming fish – essentially, it’s factory farming underwater. So, is fishing from our oceans a better option for animals and our shared planet? Read on and decide for yourself…

1. Fish suffer a painful death

When fish are pulled out from the depths of the ocean, the change in pressure can cause their eyes and internal organs to burst. If they survive this, they may be crushed to death under the weight of other animals in the enormous nets.

For most, death comes as they slowly suffocate on the decks of ships. Caring consumers would never stand for this extreme suffering of animals on land – but out in the middle of the ocean, no one can see their suffering.

2. Dolphins, turtles and sharks are being killed too

Fish aren’t the only animals who are under threat as a result of fishing. Fishing nets are indiscriminate and catch dolphins, sharks, turtles, stingrays and any other animal who is in their path.

If these “non-target” animals are thrown back into the ocean alive, many are injured, in shock, and in some cases already dying – these animals are extremely vulnerable to being preyed upon.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A dolphin dragged onto a boat, tangled in fishing net.
Image credit: Mercy For Animals

3. Fish are being pulled from the sea at an unsustainable rate

Australia’s fishing industry has been called out for not allowing fish populations to recover. For marine systems to continue to exist as we know them, we need to let fish populations recuperate from the destruction we’ve caused.

To help protect the intricate ecosystems off Australia’s coast and throughout the high seas, we can choose to simply leave sea animals in the sea – where they belong.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Fish crammed together in a fishing net out of the water.
Image credit: Greenpeace

4.  Ghost nets and other fishing-related plastics are polluting the sea

Plastics are life-threatening to marine animals – they can easily become entangled in floating plastic and die slow, painful deaths, or be predated upon when unable to escape.

According to a Greenpeace report, fishing ‘ghost gear’ makes up the majority of large ocean plastics (by weight). A different study in 2018 analysing the contents of the world’s largest floating patch of garbage, ‘the great Pacific garbage patch’, discovered that nearly half of it was discarded or lost fishing nets.

5. As well as entangling fish, plastic is also being ingested

Large plastic in the ocean breaks down into microplastics. This is not only a threat to animals — it’s a threat to humans too! Scientists have found microparticles of plastic in the bodies of humans as a result of eating fish and other sea animals who commonly ingest plastic by accident. The researchers expressed concern that humans could be ingesting dangerous toxins through these plastic particles.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A turtle caught in ghost net

Sadly, whenever animals are taken from the wild – or farmed – for human consumption, we see the same things; environmental destruction and a disregard for animal welfare. Commercial fishing is putting marine animals at risk, destroying ecosystems and leaving nets behind to take even more lives.

The good news: there’s a better, kinder way…

Fish and other marine animals suffer greatly at the hands of the fishing industry and the farmed fish industry. It’s no surprise that more and more people are turning to kinder, sustainable plant-based meals. Eating animal-friendly food is the most powerful way you can shape a more compassionate future for animals – and it’s also delicious and nutritious! A plant-based diet can provide all the nutrients your body needs to thrive, including omega 3.

Keen to learn more? You’ll find all the information you need, plus a selection of delicious recipes, in your free Veg Starter Kit! Order your copy here. Or if you’re ready to get cooking right away, you might like to browse our collection of hundreds of scrumptious plant-based recipes at!