While Cermaq already reports on a broad set of fish health and welfare indicators, this is the first step towards developing KPIs for measuring fish welfare as defined in FishWell – a project which looked at how to assess the welfare of farmed salmon in different production systems and husbandry practices.
The 305-page FishWell report, which was published in Norwegian last year, was the result of a collaborative effort by scientists from Nofima, the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI), Nord University and the University of Stirling. In it they summarize the latest fish welfare knowledge and recommend how this can be put to use in production processes and fish handling procedures.
“The goals of the project are to provide the user with correct fit-for-purpose tools for measuring fish welfare, based upon sound science,” said Chris Noble, the Nofima scientist who headed the FishWell project.
However, despite the recent development, Cermaq is now looking towards an era in which new technology – which they’re working on – which will allow farms to be monitored on a fish-by-fish basis, will bring out the best of the FishWell recommendations.
“A real change maker for monitoring fish welfare will only be seen when we move towards individualized farming. Then we can monitor and treat individual fish, not the entire stock in the pen. This is where iFarm provides a solution,” says R&D Director Olai Einen
iFarm, when fully developed, aims to measure the external fish health and welfare parameters presented in FishWell. By sorting and treating individual fish, the welfare for all fish in the pen will increase and mortality rates will be dramatically reduced.
An English version of FishWell is due to be published next month.