Animal Welfare in Aquaculture

Fish are protected by the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act, equally to other vertebrate species.

Fish research at the Veterinary Institute mainly focuses on health, which is closely linked to welfare. Thus, improvements in fish health will also enhance welfare. For salmon lice, the treatments as such is a welfare concern.

Our fish welfare research is largely applied. It includes welfare implications of diseases, testing of equipment and procedures used at the fish farms, factors contributing to mortalities and injuries, as well as refinement and use of operational welfare indicators.

We have ongoing research on governmental control and development of the legal frame related to health and welfare in aquaculture. We give scientific support for the Norwegian Food Safety Authorities and initiates research if necessary to provide science based answers to fish welfare issues.  

Traditions for handling fish are different from terrestrial animal farming, and attitudes may be a major obstacle to the implementation of welfare actions. The importance of choice of words is explored in an on-going project where wording in legal provisions for fish farming and chicken farming is compared.