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The ethics of fish welfare


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The topic of fish welfare in the context of commercial fisheries is a difficult one. From traditionally anthropocentric or human-centred perspectives, fishes are simply objects for humans to use as they see fit. When it is argued that anthropocentrism is arbitrary, it may appear that a strong animal rights position is the only recourse, with the result that humans ought not to use animals in the first place, if it is at all possible. It can be argued that both positions fail to view human beings as part of the natural world. If human beings are viewed as part of the world from which they live, then it has to be asked what it means to be respectful of the animals which humans use and from which they live. From this perspective, concern for the welfare of the fishes humans eat is simply what should be expected from humans as good citizens in the community of living creatures.