Martha Stewart: Cut ties with cruel salmon and make a splash with vegan seafood!
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I recently worked as an undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing (now known as Animal Outlook) at a massive industrial salmon hatchery in Bingham, Maine, operated by Cooke Aquaculture. I captured footage of senseless violence against fish on a daily basis and witnessed horrendous living conditions. Fish here were being raised for human consumption in filthy tanks, covered in fungus and suffering immensely. This hatchery farms and raises Atlantic salmon to be sold under its marketing branch, True North Seafood—which has recently partnered with homemaking icon Martha Stewart to supply salmon for her new seafood line.
During my time at the hatchery, I witnessed workers throwing improperly anesthetized fish across great distances. Sometimes they were thrown into another tank; other times, into waterless buckets, where they were left to either be crushed by others or suffocate to death. Imagine the horror if this violence were committed against any other animal, like a dog, cat, or chicken! At Cooke, it was like a game to the workers as they attempted “trick shots” and blocked each other’s tosses.
I also frequently saw hatchery employees stomping on fish's heads and slamming them against cement tanks and poles multiple times in failed efforts to kill them. Often, they were left on the ground, still conscious and writhing in pain.
Fish at Cooke are routinely vaccinated, yet this procedure, along with fin-clipping (cutting of the fish’s fins in order to identify them), is performed sloppily and carelessly, resulting in even more injury because the fish are often not even properly anesthetized first. The salmon at Cooke are also confined in such filthy, overcrowded, and putrid tanks that fungal infections are the norm. I even saw many fish who were missing eyes because the fish are starved and forced to live in such filthy water conditions that they can mistake each other’s pupils for food as they desperately search for nourishment.
Fish are intelligent, sensitive animals who feel pain, stress, and fear just like other animals. Recently, researchers have found that they use tools and can recognize themselves in mirrors. Fish pain receptors are remarkably close to our own--likely from a shared common ancestor. Fish scientist Becca Franks says it best: “The science on fish sentience is clear: fish have the capacity to suffer and feel pain.” Yet they are denied even very basic protections afforded to other animals.
Martha Stewart, a self-proclaimed animal lover, shared that she’s happy to partner with True North because the company touts sustainable practices and claims to care about its community.
As the world’s major wild fish populations have been cut in half since 1970, commercial fishing is clearly unsustainable for our future. Yet my footage reveals just why factory farming fish is not the solution. The salmon True North is feeding to the public are suffering from painful deformities and are housed in tanks riddled with fungi.
Sadly, the cruelty that I caught on camera at Cooke Aquaculture is not an isolated case. As long as there is a demand for Atlantic salmon meat and seafood in general, these murky practices will continue as employees in facilities all over the country are forced to cut corners to turn a profit.
Luckily, millions of consumers are realizing that the best way to help fish and to keep our bodies and oceans healthy is by leaving animal products out of our shopping carts and off of our plates, leading to the proliferation of delicious vegan seafood like those from Good Catch, Sophie’s Kitchen, and Ocean Hugger Foods. Even animal meat giant Tyson Foods has jumped aboard with its recent investment in vegan shrimp maker New Wave Foods.
After being contacted about COK’s investigation, Cory Baker, COO of Marquee Brands (which owns the Martha Stewart True North Line) replied right away, stating that the company will be opening its own investigation immediately and is committed to “sustainability and of course ensuring cruelty-free practices.”
The only way for Martha Stewart to cut out cruelty from her salmon line is to drop it completely. Please join me today in urging Martha Stewart to make waves for sea animals by ending her True North salmon partnership and instead pave the way to the future of food by investing in a plant-based seafood alternative.
Undercover Investigator, Compassion Over Killing
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