Federation of Veterinarians of Europe
EFSA: Fish welfare and the concept of sentience in fish
EFSA: Fish welfare and the concept of sentience in fish

Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Animal Health and Welfare Panel (AHAW) was asked to deliver a Scientific Opinion on the animal welfare aspects of husbandry systems for farmed fish.

Scientific opinions regarding six different species of farmed fish had been adpoted already earlier, in addition to that a scientific opinion on the 'general approach to fish welfare and to the concept of sentience in fish' was adopted on 29 January. The report concludes that the concept of welfare is the same for all animals used for human food and given protection under the Treaty of Amsterdam. But clearly defined protocols for fish welfare evaluation are lacking because fish welfare has not been studied to the same extent as mammals and birds. Some evidence was seen in studies of sensory systems, brain structure and functionality, pain, fear and distress that neural components of sentience are present in some species of fish. The AHAW Panel recommends research and develpments in the area of cognition and brain imaging techniques in fish to improve our knowledge and understanding of pain perception. Link to report.

EFSA also currently is asking for comments on 5 draft scientific reports on the current methods of stunning and killing of fish: 'Species-specific welfare aspects of the main systems of stunning and killing of farmed eel, carp, sea brass and sea bream, salmon, trout and tuna'. Deadline for comments is 13 March 2009. For more information on the draft documents please contact the FVE office: Mail