Association Empatia - Report concerning conditions of selling live fish in Poland
Jan. 2006

(See  for pictures and videos - scroll down at the bottom of the page)

We present the outcome of a series of inspections in places where live fish are sold. They were carried out in December, 2005, in Gdansk and the surrounding areas. The picture that was outlined as a result of the inspections seems to be what one might call a Polish standard. Similar documentation would have been gathered if the research had been done in almost every other town or city. Selling live fish in supermarkets and food markets is legal in Poland. In December mainly carps are sold this way, as they are considered by most of the Poles to be traditional Christmas Eve dish. Fish meat is considered tasty if it is derived from the fish killed just before consumption. Poland is one of a few European countries in which activities documented in the report can be observed.

Photos and films present fish crowded in small containers filled with water, often deprived of their fins, with wounded bodies, packed in plastic bags and handed to customers, so they can deliver the fish (struggling and suffocating) on Christmas Eve table. Many people are not a bit embarrassed with carrying these creatures, "begging for some water", together with other food products. Passer-bys, who got used to such a sight, view these "jumping plastic bags" with indifference.

Association Empatia demands putting a ban on selling live fish. Since 2003, the 20th December was declared "The Day of Fish". Since then, every year we organise campaigns in dozens of towns and cities in Poland. We distribute dozens of thousands of leaflets, organise happenings, present the problem in the media, and document the way the fish are treated. We try to make people aware that fish are intelligent and sensitive creatures. All our members are vegetarians or vegans.

To get more information, or when willing to help us in any way, write to us: