Catfish Are Skinned Alive
An Animal Rights Article from

FROM Mercy for Animals

January 2011
March 2017

  • [Watch the stunningly horrific video.]

    A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation provides a startling glimpse into "Catfish Corner," a fish slaughter facility in Mesquite, Texas.

    Behind the operation's jaunty name lies a grisly reality. From the water to the cutting table, fish are tortured – suffocated, skinned and dismembered, all while conscious and feeling pain.

    MFA's hidden camera video reveals:

  • Workers using pliers to pull the skin off of live fish

  • Dozens of fish crammed into buckets and baskets, gasping for oxygen

  • Skinned fish still moving and gasping on the cutting table

  • Fish flailing and struggling to escape the workers' knives

  • Live fish sliced and split in half

  • Workers tearing the heads off of live fish

    Upon reviewing the undercover footage, animal behaviorist Dr. Jonathan Balcombe harshly condemned Catfish Corner, stating, "Treating [fish] like inanimate things is cruel and ethically abhorrent. Handling such as that shown in the footage is extremely cruel and heartless and should be outlawed immediately."

    Veterinarian Lee Schrader concurred, adding, "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."

    It is now widely accepted that fish feel pain. In fact, fish process pain in much the same way as mammals. The fish in the video exhibit pronounced aversive responses to their handling, such as violently flopping and attempting to move away, suggesting that they indeed feel pain and are suffering immensely.

    Further, no measures were taken to stun or render the fish insensible to pain prior to skinning. According to Dr. Schrader, the fact that the animals stopped struggling only after their heads were removed suggests that their movement was a deliberate response to pain.

    MFA presented clear evidence of the routine skinning and dismemberment of live, suffering animals at this facility, yet the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has declined to file cruelty-to-animal charges. Such inaction illustrates that stricter and stronger laws are urgently needed in Texas to prevent such egregious animal suffering.

    Nationwide, not a single federal law exists to protect fish from abuse on aquaculture factory farms, during fishing events, or at slaughter – allowing widespread abuse to continue.

    In the U.S. each year, approximately 8.4 billion fish are killed for food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 80% of farm-raised fish are catfish, with Texas as a leading producer.

    Fortunately, as consumers we have the power to spare fish – and all other animals used in food production – unnecessary pain and suffering by adopting a compassionate vegan diet. 

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