Intensive fish farming, whereby large numbers of fish are confined in a small area, causes serious welfare problems that need to be addressed urgently to prevent further widespread suffering.
Intensive aquaculture practices frequently expose fish to a range of stressors such as stripping of broodstock, handling, vaccinations, crowding, grading, starvation, sea lice treatments as well as loading and transport. Although they can be alleviated to some degree by good practice, these stressors are inherent in intensive aquaculture. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has pointed out that common aquaculture practices can lead to injury, stress, increased disease susceptibility and impaired performance.
Intensively-farmed fish suffer from a range of welfare problems including physical injuries such as fin erosion, eye cataracts, skeletal deformities, soft tissue anomalies, increased susceptibility to disease, sea lice infestation in the case of Atlantic salmon and high mortality rates. It is well established that fish are likely to experience pain, fear and psychological stress and that, like other vertebrates, they have the capacity to suffer. Accordingly, it is important that their welfare is safeguarded