As a non-profit civil organisation, we want to ensure that farmed fish in Spain are raised with animal welfare standards fully integrated into the sustainability policies of the sector. For that, we encourage the different stakeholders to align farmed animal welfare with the latest scientific knowledge, current and future rules of the European Commission, and consumers’ awareness.

Animal welfare in aquaculture

From Equalia, we are working to advance animal welfare in aquaculture. Our aim is to collaborate with businesses, institutions and regulatory authorities.

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What is aquaculture?

According to FAO, aquaculture is the captive breeding of aquatic animals (fish, molluscs, crustaceans, and algae) for human consumption. Such a rearing process takes place in fish farms and other facilities under controlled conditions. Nowadays, it has overpassed fisheries as the primary source of animal protein from marine areas.

AQUACULTURE IN SPAIN:
ITS DEFINITION AND RELEVANCE WITHIN THE EU COMMON MARKET

Aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing food sector, surpassing wild fish catches as the primary source of fish (and seafood). Spain stands out as one of the top aquaculture producers and a national market with higher consumption within the European Union.

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CONCEPT OF FARMED FISH WELFARE

Animal welfare refers to an animal's physical and mental state regarding the conditions in which it lives and dies. In terms of fishes, their welfare depends on feed, water quality, animal handling, slaughter and staff training, amongst other elements.

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Furthermore, farmed fish welfare is directly related to important issues like food safety and sustainable development. This way, the Spanish aquaculture industry's advances in animal welfare will be aligned with the EU From Farm to Fork strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

EU ANIMAL WELFARE LEGISLATION REVIEW

At the EU level, various directives and rules protect those animals destined for human consumption during their rearing, transportation and slaughter. However, according to the latest scientific knowledge and citizens' demand, animal welfare (including farmed fish) is not adequately regulated. For that, there is an ongoing review of the EU animal welfare legislation.

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“More attention should be paid to fish welfare, and not only because of the increasing public interest in fish products from animals with good welfare or demand for those products.”

“The food consumption from marine areas increases rapidly; however, aquaculture remains unknown to the general public. Aquaculture sustainable development will only be possible when considering farmed fish welfare, along other aquatic animals bred in captivity”.

CLAUDIA MILLÁN
Fish welfare specialist at equalia