Wiese T, Haskell M, Jarvis S, Planellas SR & Turnbull J (2023) Concerns and research priorities for Scottish farmed salmon welfare An industry perspective. Aquaculture, 566, Art. No.: 739235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2023.739235
The intensification of Scottish salmon farming has been associated with increasing demands for the monitoring and safeguarding of farmed salmon welfare. Continued growth of farm productivity, while avoiding adverse effects on salmon welfare, will require the development of effective welfare assessment tools.
This paper reports on a survey of the Scottish salmon farming industry, which was conducted to understand current salmon welfare concerns and priorities for research. As part of a broader aim for further developing tools for on-farm salmon welfare assessment, a total of 61 individuals working in the Scottish salmon farming industry took part. This survey intentionally focused on industry stakeholders to provide insights into current practices and challenges associated with monitoring and assessing salmon welfare. Participants were recruited through authors' industry contacts, online advertisements, and searches of company websites. In terms of production stages, survey participants believed that the seawater rearing stage is a major area of concern, largely due to the challenges presented by sea lice. Gill health and environmental challenges, mainly relating to water quality, were two other highly ranked welfare concerns. Methods to monitor salmon welfare during husbandry practices, where disturbances and contact with the salmon is unavoidable (particularly during crowding, grading, and interventions), were emphasised as a priority. Although these were identified as the major concerns, the survey indicated that there are other significant welfare concerns specific to each production stage that also require consideration.
Participants highlighted non-invasive, remote, and animal-based welfare measures as important areas for further development for on-farm welfare assessments. Behavioural measures were identified as having the potential to make a major contribution in this context.
This survey presents the first collection of opinions from professionals employed across the Scottish salmon farming industry regarding the current overall state of farmed salmon welfare. This study upholds the importance of using an integrated approach to welfare assessments, and that behavioural measures could play an important role in ensuring these assessments benefit both salmon welfare and farm productivity.
Aquaculture; Fish health; Non-invasive monitoring; Animal behaviour; Survey
Aquaculture: Volume 566