Day: October 26, 2022

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Should Make Better Use of Established Best Practices – Public Consultation Link.

Photo – Act 4Fish

26 October 2022

Until the end of October the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is inviting public participation in a consultation on the development of new fish welfare indicators. The indicators will become requirements in the ASC certification scheme, applied in the production of 10+ fish species in aquaculture all across the globe.

Knowledge and best practices on fish welfare have been developing at an exponential rate for twenty plus years. Major certifiers, including the ASC, taking up the topic offers a turning point for fish welfare in aquaculture. It should be a turning point in terms of improving the quality of life of fish, and a turning point in terms of tackling health and product quality challenges in a sector that is continually innovating on the intensive production of undomesticated animals.

The indicators that the ASC has out for consultation now aim at the widespread implementation of the immediate stunning of fish at slaughter. This would be a step change in the sector, pushing technologies that have become standard in the salmon sector from occasional use with other species to implementation widely across aquaculture. With most farmed fish currently killed either by asphyxiation or by simply processing them alive, the introduction of immediate stunning would go a long way towards ending the terrible suffering of fish slaughter.

Farmed fish live long lives on farms. A salmon is probably 3 years old before it is slaughtered, and many other species are reared for 1 to 2 years. It’s a very different scenario from chickens that are raised for a little over a month, or pigs for four to seven months. Unfortunately, the ASC has held back from introducing welfare standards during farming. Instead they propose a framework of monitoring and documentation around many aspects of welfare, but without the measurable specifics that would, a) guarantee consumers something about the standard of life experienced by the fish, b) give aquaculture workers tangible procedures that raise their attention on fish welfare while improving the lives of the fish, and c) provide the basis for the equal application of standards across certified farms.

Fish and their immune systems are especially vulnerable to stress, and will take several days to recover from an instance of routine handling. Aquaculture producers commonly have mortality rates around 20% and for the sake of the fish, and the feed and resources lost when farmed fish die, minimising stress during farming should be a priority for everybody. The RSPCA has been evolving its standards for salmon and trout for over 20 years, the Council of Europe published widely applicable guidelines in 2005, the World Organisation for Animal Health published standards in 2009, the EU Platform on Animal Welfare published guidelines in 2020, and other expert groups and producer organisations have developed many species-specific and regional guidelines. By leaving aside the best practices developed across so many projects, the ASC is passing up the chance to implement the knowledge meaningfully for the benefit of fish and fish farmers.

Aquaculture experts and scientists are now uncovering how to create variety and mental stimulation in fish’s lives. Certification schemes, including the ASC, should have moved further on the basics of avoiding suffering and be better positioned today to provide a good life for farmed fish.

Take part in the public consultation before 31 October 2022

Regards Mark

EU Parliament Committee on Petitions Calls for an EU-Wide Positive List to Regulate Exotic Pet Trade,

25 October 2022

Today the PETI Committee voted to call on the European Commission to regulate the exotic pet trade through an EU-wide Positive List of animals that can be kept as pets. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour, with 20 MEPs voting in favour of the motion, only one voting against or abstaining.

The issue

An enormous number of animals are traded in the EU for the purpose of being kept as companions in people’s households, but many of these species are not and cannot ever be suitable for life in captivity. The motion adopted today highlights the impact of the exotic pet trade on animal welfare, the potential of zoonotic disease risk, and the risk to biodiversity from animals being taken from the wild in their country of origin and also of being released or escaping and becoming invasive species.

The motion states that the current regulations in Member States and provision in the EU do not go far enough, are inefficient in ensuring the welfare of animals traded as pets in inappropriate conditions, and fail to account for the vast majority of species. The lack of sufficient data on the pet trade is mentioned, and Positive Lists already adopted in some countries were highlighted to solve these problems at Member State level, from which lessons can be learnt.

The solution

The motion highlights that an EU-wide positive list is the solution to the plethora of problems caused by the exotic pet trade. A Positive List is a list of animals that are allowed to be traded, meaning that any animals not on the list are illegal to trade. This system is succinct, precautionary, and provides clarity on what species are allowed to be traded in the EU. The motion provides flexibility on the criteria on which the Positive List would be built to ensure the most effective and feasible criteria are used. Importantly, it calls for the strict and timely implementation of the revised EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, set to be released at the end of this week. Following the success of the motion, the Parliament are calling on the European Commission to carry out an impact assessment of the added-value and feasibility of establishing such a list.

Eurogroup for Animals are thrilled that this strong motion has been adopted by the PETI Committee and calls on all MEPs to vote to adopt this important resolution in the Plenary.

Regards Mark