According to the organisation, their investigation uncovered ineffective and repeated use of electrical stun devices alongside other welfare concerns including fungal infections, fin damage, and other unspecified injuries.
The organisation also claims that the investigation revealed trout being slaughtered prior to being euthanised, and has led Compassion to reiterate that fish are sentient creatures.
Dr Natasha Boyland, fish policy and research manager at Compassion in World Farming, said in a press release: "This investigation has revealed appalling and widespread cruelty, exposing the desperate and urgent need for improved legal protection for farmed fish in the EU and around the world.
“Our investigators witnessed widespread shocking cruel practices including live fish being gutted, being packed into plastic bags, and even having their eyes gouged out. The scientific evidence is clear that fish are sentient animals capable of feeling pain and suffering, just like other animals. It is therefore totally unacceptable to allow this barbaric cruelty to continue.”
“We must ensure that fish are protected from cruelty by comprehensive and species-specific legislation, and we urge the EU to introduce such legislation to protect their welfare without delay as part of the animal welfare legislation revision.”
According to Compassion in World Farming, the conditions revealed in the investigation are present in other fish farms, and - despite growing recognition of fish sentience and the need for improved animal welfare standards - a gap in EU legislation remains.
In 2020, the European Commission committed to revising animal welfare legislation – including transport and slaughter practices – to align with the latest scientific evidence on fish sentience. However, the organisation feels the Commission has failed to publish new sufficient animal welfare legislation proposals.
Compassion in World Farming adds that the investigation exposed unhygienic water quality in all but one of the farms.
Actor and Compassion in World Farming supporter Zoë Wanamaker added: “It's time that we stood up for the welfare of farmed fish which is why I am supporting Compassion in World Farming’s campaign, calling on the European Commission to introduce legislation to protect these creatures."