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ALF release fish from a Scottish farm


On September 14, 2006 Arkangel reported on the release of Wild Boar from the Millcraig Mill Farm, Alness in the Scottish Highlands. In what appears to be an escalation in the activity of the ALF in Scotland, Arkangel has received another anonymous communiqué from a cell of the ALF claiming responsibility for the attack on a fish farm on the west coast of Scotland. The communiqué dated the 13th September begins "Activists went to an intensive halibut farm near Oban, on the west coast of Scotland. All the pens were destroyed & sunk, & we saw hundreds, if not thousands of fish swimming free towards the sea".

ALF release fish from a Scottish farm
www.arkangelweb.org
September 15, 2006

Yesterday Arkangel reported on the release of Wild Boar from the Millcraig Mill Farm, Alness in the Scottish Highlands. In what appears to be an escalation in the activity of the ALF in Scotland, Arkangel has received another anonymous communiqué from a cell of the ALF claiming responsibility for the attack on a fish farm on the west coast of Scotland.

The communiqué dated the 13th September begins "Activists went to an intensive halibut farm near Oban, on the west coast of Scotland. All the pens were destroyed & sunk, & we saw hundreds, if not thousands of fish swimming free towards the sea".

Having released the fish it would appear that the ALF group wanted to cause as much economic damage as possible to the fish farm company as the group systematically destroyed the equipment belonging to the farm. They began by first disabling the farm's boat.

"Having finished liberating the fish we boarded the farm's ship, smashed everything we could, including the controls, the radar, the GPS system,& all the keys, finishing by emptying a fire extinguisher inside the cabin& shutting the door".

The communiqué ends by detailing further damage to the farm: "Finally, we broke into an on-site portakabin, destroying all the clothing & paperwork inside, as well as destroying a computer & a mobile phone with an axe. We then repeated the fire-extinguisher trick, this time with two. A massive on-sight crane was also disabled".

For many years a debate had raged of whether fish feel pain, it is now believed in most quarters that fish do feel pain. In a 1996 report examining the welfare of farmed fish, the Ministry of Agriculture's official advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, noted the following:

"Almost all fish live the whole of their lives in water and show a maximal emergency response when removed from water, even for a very short period. This response includes changes in heart rate, increased production of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol and vigorous muscle contractions… These changes often indicate fear in the fish…All of the scientific evidence concerning such effects makes it clear that the term stress is certainly relevant to fish and that the means by which stress effects are mediated are very similar to those in mammals. Evidence that the term pain is applicable to fish comes from anatomical, physiological and behavioural studies whose results are very similar to those of studies on birds and mammals. The fact that fish are cold blooded does not prevent them from having a pain system and, indeed, such a system is valuable in preserving life and maximising the biological fitness of individuals. The receptor cells, neuronal pathways and specialised transmitter substances in the pain system are very similar in fish to those in mammals." (Farm Animal Welfare Council Report on the Welfare of Farmed Fish, September 1996)

Even a study funded by the British Field Sports Society and the National Federation of Anglers found that capture of fish by anglers causes acute physiological stress. (T.G. Pottinger, Fish Welfare Literature Review, The Institute of Freshwater Ecology, May 1995.)

Facts about fish you might not have known:

• Fish are cold-blooded, which means that their blood temperature fluctuates in relation to the surrounding water. They breathe through their gills - taking in water through their mouths, retaining the oxygen and passing it into their bloodstream. Their bodies are covered with overlapping waterproof scales to provide protection against infection without hindering movement. Their scales are not watertight, so fish have a layer of protective mucus, which also keeps out infection. Handling by humans damages this mucus, leaving the fish vulnerable to disease when returned to the water.

• Most fish have a row of tiny pores on their sides called the lateral line. These act as a hearing aid, making them very sensitive to vibrations and reflections. Outside the water, however, they can hear no sounds. They also have a swim bladder to help them balance and move from deep to shallow water.

• Fish are short sighted. Their eyes can look in separate directions at the same time. They do have colour vision, though. Hence the use by anglers of brightly coloured bait.

• Just as we use our hands, fish use their tongues and lips to build nests, gather food and hide their young from danger.

• Scottish farmed fish start their lives in industrial hatcheries and are then moved to huge cages, often located at the mouths of sea lochs. The cages are up to 70 metres in diameter, with plans to extend them to 90 metres. Around 250,000 fish are tightly packed into each cage. Many die prematurely under this intensive regime. There is also a high level of snout, fin and other injuries - plus infestations and viral and bacterial infections. Prior to slaughter, the fish are starved for days and even weeks. In some units they are killed by first being hit on the head with a club and then having their gill arches torn or cut so that they bleed to death. In other operations, the fish are placed in a tank with carbon monoxide and then clubbed or bled to death.

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