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Stirling contributes to new handbook on salmon welfare

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The aquaculture industry is set to benefit from a new handbook – created in collaboration with the University of Stirling – which will help a wide range of people assess the welfare of Atlantic salmon.

The 351-page guide, ‘Welfare indicators for farmed Atlantic salmon – tools for assessing fish welfare’, was first published in Norwegian, but is now available in English.

It provides the industry – and other interested stakeholders – with a handbook on the indicators for assessing farmed salmon welfare across different rearing systems, routines and operations.

Professor Jimmy Turnbull, of the Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling, contributed to the new book, alongside colleagues from the food research institute Nofima; the Institute of Marine Research; the Norwegian Veterinary Institute; and Nord University.

“Essentially, it is a science-based toolbox where we outline the list of welfare indicators we currently have, evaluate their operational feasibility, and match them to specific production systems or tasks,” said Dr Chris Noble, a Nofima scientist who leads the project.

Fish welfare is a key issue in commercial farming and is central to many decisions that farmers take during their daily husbandry practices and longer term production planning. It is also a prominent topic for non-governmental organisations, animal welfare organisations and charities, regulatory bodies, policy makers and consumers.

The handbook is in three parts: the first providing scientific details on the welfare of Atlantic salmon at different life-stages; the second is a user guide on welfare indicators for assessing fish welfare in a range of different production systems; and the third outlines indicators for assessing fish welfare in different routines and operations.

The handbook was published in Norwegian last year and has been well received by the Norwegian industry stakeholders.

”The response from the Norwegian industry has been entirely positive and several producers have already used the handbook as a basis for implementing operational welfare assessments in different production stages and routines,” said Sven Martin Jørgensen, Research and Development Director of Fish Health at the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF). FHF funded the £640,000 project.

Dr Noble added: “The handbook has generated a lot of interest, and we have had about 750 orders so far for the hardcopy of the Norwegian version. We have also had lots of requests for an English version, hence its release as a PDF.”

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