As reported here on the web in November, IFL is participating in a major European project on fish welfare in aquaculture. Recently, the first meeting of the steering committee chaired by IFL was held in Brussels, and here you can read a summary of what was discussed there.
The COST 867 project "Welfare of Fish in European Aquaculture" deals, as the name implies, with the welfare of fish in aquaculture. In recent years, increasing emphasis has been placed on the welfare of animals, both domestic and non-domestic, including the ethical views of responsible consumers who care about the care and welfare of domestic animals, stricter requirements in regulations on domestic living conditions and rules on organic farming.
Welfare is a complex concept and there is no single definition of the welfare of farmed fish, as this has been little researched and there are no biological criteria for the welfare of farmed fish. It is debated whether fish can survive, but nonetheless, this debate has surfaced in connection with aquaculture and no less fishing. It is therefore important that common sense is taken into account and that the industry takes the initiative to launch the debate. Although there is a debate about how to define welfare, most people should be able to agree that a conflict between welfare considerations and the efficient operation of aquaculture companies should be avoided. There is a direct link between welfare, consumer confidence and quality in production.
The aim of the project is to bring together representatives of those who are related to fish welfare in some way. Participants are fish farmers, representatives of the administration and representatives of research institutes. It is expected that work will be done to formulate guidelines and rules of procedure for the welfare of farmed fish and to define measures of the welfare of farmed fish. An extensive publication will also be prepared where information on fish welfare will be compiled, which will be useful, among other things, in all policy-making in this field. In addition to discussing the welfare of farmed fish, the welfare of fish will also be addressed as experimental animals, ornamental fish and in connection with fishing. It is therefore important for Icelanders to have a representative in this group.
The project is divided into three working groups. They are:
- Biology of fish important for welfare.
- Measurable welfare in aquaculture.
- Fish welfare and management.
Icelandic participants in the project and who sit on the project's steering committee are on behalf of IFL dr. Þorleifur Ágústsson (photo right) and dr. Helgi Thorarensen from Hólaskóli.
It should be noted that a special website for the project is being prepared and it will be prepared by the University Center of the Westfjords, in collaboration with IFL and the University of Stirling in Scotland.