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Are fish protected by animal welfare legislation?

Article ID: 448
Last updated: 27 Mar, 2012
Revision: 1
Views: 12766

The status of fish under State and Territory animal welfare legislation depends on whether they are included in the definition of an ‘animal’. In all jurisdictions, Animal Welfare or Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Acts cover vertebrate animals, but only some include fish, despite all fish being vertebrates.

Fish are included as vertebrate species in the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria. In South Australia and Western Australia, fish are specifically excluded from animal welfare legislation. In the Northern Territory, fish are only covered by animal welfare legislation when ‘in captivity or dependent on a person for food’.

In some states, despite fish being included under animal welfare legislation, there are specific exemptions to some sections in relation to recreational fishing or for anything that occurs under fisheries legislation.

Because there is clear evidence that fish are sentient animals capable of experiencing pain and suffering, RSPCA Australia believes that fish should be uniformly protected under State and Territory animal welfare legislation.


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Also read
document What is shark finning and is it legal in Australia?
document Do fish feel pain?
document How can fish caught in commercial fishing be killed humanely?
document What can be done to improve the welfare of fish and shellfish in restaurant aquaria?
document RSPCA Policy C11 Angling
document What does the RSPCA think about bluewater fishing?

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