Aquaculture Advisory Council pushes for an end to slaughter without stunning


Aquaculture Advisory Council pushes for an end to slaughter without stunning

15 July 2019
One of fish farming’s cruelest practices could be on its way towards being a thing of the past if the Commission and the Member States act on a position paper adopted by the Aquaculture Advisory Council (AAC) this week.

The paper, ‘Fish Welfare at Slaughter Recommendations’, stresses the need for effective stunning techniques for fish at the time of slaughter. Currently, stunning is routine in the salmon sector and is sometimes used with other species including eel, African catfish, trout, carp, kingfish, sea bass and sea bream. But in most cases, farmed fish are routinely undergoing slaughter without stunning. 

It is now widely accepted that fish need the same welfare standards as any other farmed animals, following numerous studies of their sentience and intelligence. Under most circumstances, slaughter without stunning is mandatory for terrestrial animals across Europe.

The AAC’s position paper, which has been six months in the making, recommends that financial and other support is made available for commercial adoption of higher welfare fish slaughter practices. It also advises the consolidation and sharing of best practices, and reiterates the need for species-specific welfare standards. 

The paper, published today, is the second position paper to be adopted by the AAC on the welfare of fish at slaughter, the first being ‘Farmed Fish Welfare During Slaughter in the European Union’  in 2017. At the time, the Commission was exploring whether it was appropriate to make legislative recommendations, and accepted the AAC position paper as informative. This new paper makes specific recommendations taking into account the findings and conclusions of the Commission’s own study.

The AAC now hopes that its new paper will encourage the Commission and the Member States to act on its recommendations.

The AAC was created in 2016 as a stakeholder-led organisation with a legal mandate under the Common Fisheries Policy to provide advice and make specific recommendations to the European Commission and national governments. Its 56 members, which are industry representatives as well as NGOs, include Eurogroup for Animals and its member organisations Compassion in World Farming, Deutscher Tierschutzbund and Vissenbescherming.

Douglas Waley
Fish Welfare Programme Leader
+32 (0)2 740 08 95