December 1, 2023

Improving the welfare of farmed fish and farming further down the food chain is key to sustainable aquaculture in Europe, as it often leads to less pollution, lower antibiotic use and greater safety. of food, a pioneering new report released today by Compassion in World Farming urges.

The report, Rethinking EU Aquaculture: for people, planet, and animals, is the first to bring together the sustainability and environmental issues caused by intensive fish farming in the EU, the need to move away from this type of production to improve animal welfare and create a more sustainable industry, and to provide clear policy solutions for policymakers. It calls for strict new EU requirements for fish farming and policies that promote sustainable alternatives such as bivalve and seaweed farming. This is in line with the European Green Deal as animal welfare and environmental sustainability go hand in hand.

Nearly 90% of assessed wild fish stocks are overfished or fished at their maximum yield and aquaculture is often touted as a solution. However, a large proportion of modern aquaculture farms carnivorous fish (such as salmon, trout or tuna) in intensive feed-based systems, which actually contribute to overfishing and create many problems. the environment and well-being.

Written by the NGO’s fish policy team, led by Dr Krzysztof Wojtas, the report provides 15 clear policy recommendations and outlines the problems caused by intensive, feed-based animal production in water, which is increasing in Europe and around the world. It shows that these systems often result in a net loss of food available for humans and highlights the urgent need to guide the EU aquaculture industry towards sustainable production of aquatic species further down the chain. in food, in many systems.

“Fish farming in the EU is not sustainable, nor ethical, because the legal requirements are too weak. However, this year will be decisive. The EU is overhauling its old laws that protect animals farmed and farmed fish should not be forgotten. Better welfare standards will not only prevent unnecessary suffering in underwater factory farms, they will also help reduce the negative impact of environment industry and food security,” said Olga Kikou, Head of Charity at World Farming EU.

Between 0.5 and 1.2 billion fish are farmed every year in the EU. To maximize profits, fish are often raised at high stocking densities and often killed inhumanely without first stunning, causing great suffering. Farmed fish have an unusually high mortality rate and many die before being slaughtered.

Intensive fish farming also harms the environment by polluting fish waste and chemicals, causing loss of biodiversity, disease outbreaks and overuse of antibiotics. The farming of carnivorous species, such as shrimp, salmon and trout, has a major impact on the environment and requires feed made from fish that can be used for human consumption, such as anchovies or sardines.

On 5 December, a petition calling for new standards to protect the welfare of farmed fish signed by more than 150,000 people was handed to the European Commission by Compassion in World Farming.

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