Fish welfare added to high-level global policy paper on sustainable aquaculture


Fish welfare added to high-level global policy paper on sustainable aquaculture

24 September 2021

With its primary goal of supporting economic development and human nutrition in developing countries, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organised the Global Conference on Aquaculture Millennium + 20 (GCA +20), 23-24 September 2021, in Shanghai, China.

Every ten years the FAO holds this major conference and establishes a consensus among policymakers across the world on the issues and priorities to tackle in aquaculture in the next decade.

The Shanghai Declaration, a key output from the GCA +20, represents a road map to optimise the role that aquaculture can play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The early draft included only one reference to animal welfare as something that gains incidentally from animal health and biosecurity measures. 

Following Eurogroup for Animal’s engagement with the FAO, there is now a much wider recognition and bigger role for animal welfare in the document adopted today. 

 The final version of the Shanghai Declaration  has picked up 4 important strands on fish welfare: 

  1. There is now a stand alone priority on human and animal health and welfare,  especially ‘recognizing that aquaculture activities should be conducted in a manner that assures the health and welfare of farmed aquatic animals, by optimizing health through minimizing stress, reducing aquatic animal disease risks and maintaining a healthy culture environment at all phases of the production cycle.’
  1. There is now recognition that fish welfare is a central element in defining and advancing the sustainability of aquaculture.
  1. The FAO will now promote the dietary benefits of other aquatic foods as well as of fish.
  1. Investment in algae production will now focus on direct human consumption as well as the production of animal feed.
This is the highest level global policy paper on aquaculture, produced by the FAO, that will direct industry and government initiatives in aquaculture for the next decade. The fact that fish welfare is finally receiving the recognition it deserves is a promising step.
Douglas Waley, Fish Welfare Programme Leader at Eurogroup for Animals