Australian Farm Processes Salmon Humanely
Huon Aquaculture of Tasmania, Australia, has become the first Australian salmon producer to join the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme and farm the fish according to humane welfare standards.
RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil said: “Scientific research has found that fish are capable of suffering, feeling pain, anxiety and fear. Therefore, like all animals farmed for food, we need to make sure that farming fish is done in a humane way.
“Huon’s participation in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme will give customers looking for an animal welfare friendly salmon product a good choice. It’s a good outcome for millions of fish and consumers wanting to make a more humane choice.”
On RSPCA approved salmon farms, good fish welfare is practiced for the entire lifecycle of the fish by providing them space to swim normally in oxygen-rich water. There’s also a focus on keeping fish free from injury and disease and the need to handle them in a manner that avoids stress.
Managing water quality and water flow is a major part of maintaining fish welfare. This determines how much oxygen is available to the fish, and while it’s fairly straightforward to monitor and regulate factors like oxygen, water temperature, pH and salinity in freshwater tanks on land, this is more complicated for fish in ocean pens (where the salmon live for two of their three-year lifespan). Here water temperature, algal blooms and disease risk are more unpredictable, and farmers need to manage feeding, stocking density and net cleaning.
Farmed fish are handled a number of times during their life, including for vaccination, and the RSPCA Scheme calls for those involved to be competent in low-stress handling.
Since the RSPCA Scheme was established 22 years ago, more than 1.2 billion farm animals have been farmed to better welfare standards.