Surface cages located near the shore. Photo: iStock
Fish Welfare Guidelines for Spanish Aquaculture
12-months work finally yielded its fruit: today we are publishing the first Fish Welfare Guidelines in Spanish Aquaculture. These guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort between Equalia, animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming, the scientific community, representatives of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and APROMAR (Spanish Aquaculture Industry Association)
Rainbow trout tanks with aeration system. Photo: iStock
Hannah Ndempawaai Fakir, Equalia’s Institutional Relations Specialist for Fish Welfare in Aquaculture
October 27 2022
Today we are celebrating the publishing of the first Fish Welfare Guidelines for Spanish Aquaculture.
These guidelines arise as an answer to a persistent problem in the Spanish Aquaculture sector: the lack of specific mandatory legislation on the welfare of farmed fish.
These first Fish Welfare Guidelines for Spanish Aquaculture are the result of an ambitious collaborative work between aquaculture producers, animal welfare organizations, scientists and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Compile all available scientific and legal information around the welfare of farmed fish.
Create a series of guidelines or recommendations based on the acquired knowledge.
Set the basis for the following species-specific guidelines.
One of the most remarkable recommendations is the effective stunning prior to slaughter of aquaculture fish.
Farmed fish in Spain and other Mediterranean countries are usually slaughtered without being previously stunned. We estimate that the most widespread practice in Spanish aquaculture is asphyxiation on ice, a practice that involves immersing live fish in ice until they die of suffocation or hypothermia, inflicting unnecessary suffering on the animal (a practice that is discouraged both by scientific literature and European regulation).
The guidelines make recommendations on different areas, such as animal health, transportation, staff training, handling and management and physical space and captivity.
Animal welfare in Spanish Aquaculture
These first Fish Welfare Guidelines for Spanish Aquaculture are the result of an ambitious collaborative work and constructive debate between aquaculture producers, animal welfare organizations, scientists and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with the aim of effectively improving the welfare of fish in Spanish aquaculture.
One of the most remarkable characteristics in this work is its collaborative approach. This interdisciplinarity provides the guidelines with an unparalleled amount of rigor, breadth and social coherence, and it will enable it to have an influence on future legal regulations and certifications.
This first guide addresses basic concepts and recommendations for fish welfare in Spanish aquaculture. This is the first one out of a collection of several guidelines that will focus on specific welfare standards for each of the species that are farmed in Spain, taking into account the different production systems in Spanish aquaculture as well.
The species-specific guidelines will be kickstarted in the future with a specific guide focused on the welfare of sea bass and sea bream in Spain.
The goal is to have specific standards for every species and encourage their implementation
The existence of this document is a milestone, since it establishes a general baseline for concepts and develops the first ever general guidelines on the welfare of farmed fish in our country. This initiative discloses the state of animal welfare in the aquaculture industry in Spain and helps promote a more coordinated and responsible development of it.
The guide is aimed at companies and professionals in the aquaculture sector, as well as public institutions, legislators, the scientific-technological and educational sectors, and civil society.
View of the lower part of the netting of a floating cage. Photo: iStock
The following entities have participated in the creation of this Guide:
The Spanish Aquaculture Industry Association (APROMAR), the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA-CSIC), animal welfare organizations Equalia and Compassion in World Farming, the FishEthoGroup Association, AQUAB -FISH (Autonomous University of Barcelona), CEIGRAM (Polytechnic University of Madrid), Dept. of Biology, Faculty of Marine and Environmental Sciences, (University of Cádiz), Animal Welfare Service from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the General Secretary of Fisheries from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Spanish aquaculture producers, as well as the rest of the participating entities, are aware that knowledge and social appreciation for fish welfare is evolving and their aim is for fish welfare to be viewed as an element of sustainability.
The participants in this innovative work have expressed their satisfaction with the work done, the reached consensus and with the unanimous will to continue advancing on this path that has just begun.
Both the European Strategy from Farm to Fork, as well as the Strategic Guidelines of the European Commission for a more sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture (2021-2030), and the Contribution of Spain to the European Strategic Guidelines prioritize progress on the welfare of fish in aquaculture.
This work has been financed by APROMAR with the co-financing of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the Government of Spain and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund of the European Union.
The Guide on Fish Welfare in Spanish Aquaculture can be downloaded through this link.
Hannah Ndempawaai Fakir
Equalia’s Institutional Relations Specialist for Fish Welfare in Aquaculture
Helen Packer, Seafood Stewardship Index Lead at World Benchmarking Alliance and Claudia Millán, Fish Welfare Specialist at Equalia
Itziar García Haro, Content creator
June 28 2022
August 12 2022
According to FAO statistics, global aquaculture production has doubled over the last 20 years and will continue to be the driving force behind the growth in global fish production. Indeed, aquaculture production is projected to reach 106 million tonnes by 2030 representing 53% of total seafood production that year. However, in order for the aquaculture sector to contribute to the transition towards sustainable food systems, this growth must be accompanied by environmentally sustainable and socially responsible practices.
The European Union has been working for more than 40 years to improve the quality of life of farm animals.