The way that fish are killed defines the amount of suffering to a large degree. Killing fish is not as yet legally regulated.
Contrary to what many people think, fish do not die quickly when they are left high and dry. Herring asphyxiate for instance after 35 minutes, cod and whiting after around 60 minutes. Sole and plaice take a bit longer. They are only dead after approximately four hours.
Stripping involves cutting up the fish while it is alive in order to remove the blood and organs. The fish does not die immediately. Herring, sole and dabs can continue living for up to 10, 30 and 35 minutes respectively. Plaice can last maximum 50 minutes.
Asphyxiating and stripping combined
This method of killing fish involves leaving the fish to gasp for 7 to 20 minutes in the air, so that they don’t die because their brains remain intact. Then, while they are still alive, their organs and blood are removed. They stay alive another 10 to 30 minutes until they finally die.
This method of killing is applied especially to eels. Eels are cut on the back of the head with the cut going through the spinal marrow. The oxygen continues to move to the head so that the animal does not die yet. It is possible that the creature is still alive and conscious while it is being cut open and its organs removed.
This method involves pouring salt over the live eels, so that their skin loses its slime. The eel makes swimming movements for a long time in order to avoid the salt. This salt bath on the skin has the effect on the eel that can be compared to burns on human being. An extremely painful method therefore. When the eel finally stops moving, it is not yet dead, but its organs are still removed. Sadly enough there are still eel fishers who kill the fish using a salt bath. This method allows them to harvest more fillet because there are fewer burn marks. With bigger companies eels are killed mechanically using electric shocks. Sometimes the fish are not dead at all, but the edible parts are cut off after which the fish is thrown back. Sharks fins are an example of this. It is high time that governments do something about it and set down rules on acceptable methods for killing.