Djurens Rätt proposes 10 measures for increased fish welfare


Djurens Rätt proposes 10 measures for increased fish welfare

2 November 2022
Djurens Rätt

In a new white paper, our member organisation Djurens Rätt describes serious animal welfare deficiencies affecting fish in aquaculture and wild capture fisheries, and proposes ten measures for increased fish welfare.

While it is well established that fish can feel pain and suffer, they are often treated as if they were emotionless beings. There are more than 30,000 species of fish, with both common and species-specific behaviours, needs and incredible abilities.

For human consumption, fish are either raised in factories (known as aquaculture or fish farms) or caught in wild capture fisheries. In both these industries, fish are measured in tonnes and not in numbers, which makes it difficult to know exactly how many fish are affected. It is estimated that around one to two thousand billion (one to two trillion) fish are caught and killed each year globally in fisheries. In fish farming, the corresponding figure is 50-150 billion.

We must treat fish as the sentient individuals they are, it is unsustainable to talk about expanding fish factories when there are already so many animal welfare deficiencies. For example, fish raised in Swedish fish factories are still subjected to painful carbon dioxide stunning before slaughter. Action is needed against this suffering and to increase fish welfare.
Camilla Bergvall, President of Djurens Rätt

Djurens Rätt launched the White Paper during a webinar on fish welfare on Wednesday 26th October. The White Paper lists ten of the most important measures that need to be implemented in order to improve the situation for fish: 

1. Fish must increasingly begin to be seen and treated as the living, sentient individuals they are.
2. A strengthened animal welfare legislation for fish at EU level.
3. A strengthened animal welfare legislation for fish at national level.
4. A ban on carbon dioxide stunning at fish slaughter.
5. More resources for research on fish welfare at slaughter.
6. Fish caught in wild capture fisheries must be subject to animal welfare legislation.
7. Certifications of fish products must include relevant fish welfare criteria.
8. A ban on bottom trawling and beam trawling.
9. The National Agency for Public Procurement must add animal welfare criteria to their fish standard, for example regarding stunning and slaughter.
10. The EU Commission must establish a European Fish Welfare Reference Centre.