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Fish Welfare Legislation Needed

News Section Icon Published 12/2/2021

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Yesterday (1st December), we organised a webinar which brought together experts from a variety of fields to examine the need for improved welfare standards for farmed fish within the EU animal welfare legislation.

During the event, speakers discussed the sentience of aquatic animals - their ability to feel pain, fear and stress - as reasons why welfare EU legislation is needed.

The time is now

Olga Kikou, our Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, moderated the webinar, which featured presentations by a range of speakers from a variety of backgrounds. They included CEO of Ace Aquatec Ltd, Nathan Pyne-Carter; and Head of the Animal Welfare Unit of the European Commission DG SANTE, Andrea Gavinelli.

MEP Anja Hazekamp highlighted the value of campaigns like our Rethink Fish work, which help to raise these issues in the European Parliament, while MEP Francisco Guerreiro spoke about fish sentience before stressing the need for legislation.

Our Head of Fish Policy, Krzysztof Wojtas, provided an overview on the topic, providing graphs to illustrate that fish are the most utilised animals on the planet, and detailing the cruel slaughter methods that are routinely used in the fish farming industry. He also explained that there are no proper regulations for fish during farming, transport or slaughter.

Krzysztof ended his presentation with a call to action:

“I feel we are at a critical moment. This is the chance to ensure that the most numerous of all farmed animals worldwide finally gets protection and decent treatment – and it’s up to you, the Commission, and the Parliament to do the right thing.”

Practical information was also provided: Katerina Marinou, Head of the Animal Welfare for Farm and Laboratory Animals Department Ministry of Rural Development and Food, described the Own Initiative guidelines produced by the fish welfare subgroup of the EU Platform for Animal Welfare and chaired by Katerina, which help facilitate proper procedures, such as correct handling to minimise injury, pain and distress for fish, before adding her voice to the call for legislation. She said: “The knowledge is available now, the animal welfare legislative opportunity is open now. The time is right now to make legal provisions for fish welfare.”

Andrea Gavinelli added, "We are currently living a historical moment – with the revision of the concept of EU policy in the area of Animal Welfare, we can finally create the right conditions to improve fish welfare!"

Looking ahead

The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session before Olga thanked the speakers for their contributions. She finished on an optimistic note:

“I’m very glad to see this increased interest in fish and fish welfare coming from citizens as well as many other stakeholders, including NGOs and the industry.”

Read more about our Rethink Fish campaign here.

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