Achieving consensus on current and future priorities for farmed fish welfare: a case study from the UK


Berrill I, Cooper T, MacIntyre C, Ellis T, Knowles TG, Jones EKM & Turnbull J (2012) Achieving consensus on current and future priorities for farmed fish welfare: a case study from the UK. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 38 (1), pp. 219-229.

The welfare of farmed fish has attracted attention in recent years, which has resulted in notable changes within the aquaculture industry. However, a lack of communication between stakeholders and opposing ethical views are perceived as barriers to achieving consensus on how to improve farmed fish welfare. To address these issues, we developed an interactive approach that could be used during stakeholder meetings to (1) improve communication between different stakeholder groups, (2) build consensus on priorities for farmed fish welfare and (3) establish mechanisms to address welfare priorities. We then applied this approach during a meeting of stakeholders to identify current and future priorities for farmed fish welfare in the UK. During the meeting in the UK, stakeholders initially identified 32 areas that they felt were in need of development for future improvements in farmed fish welfare. These were further refined via peer review and discussion to the seven most important "priority" areas. Establishing a "better understanding of what good fish welfare is" emerged as the highest priority area for farmed fish welfare. The second highest priority area was "the need for welfare monitoring and documentation systems", with mortality recording proposed as an example. The other five priority areas were "[improved understanding of] the role of genetic selection in producing fish suited to the farming environment", "a need for integration and application of behavioural and physiological measures", "the need for a more liberal regime in Europe for introducing new medicines", "a need to address the issues of training existing and new workers within the industry", and "ensuring best practise in aquaculture is followed by individual businesses". Feedback from attendees, and the meeting outputs, indicated that the approach had been successful in improving communication between stakeholders and in achieving consensus on the priorities for farmed fish welfare. The approach therefore proved highly beneficial for future improvements in fish welfare in the UK.

Fish; Welfare; Stakeholder; Aquaculture; Consensus; UK

Fish Physiology and Biochemistry: Volume 38, Issue 1

Publication date29/02/2012