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Fish Dependence Day

Sustainability +1 more

UK - Compassion in World Farming is calling for more consideration for the welfare of farmed fish, with Saturday 16 July being marked Fish Dependence Day.

Compassion in World Farming says that if we had only eaten fish from UK seas, Saturday 16 July 2011 would mark the day that we would have run out of fish for the year.

Every year there are fewer fish and we are increasingly turning to farmed fish to satisfy demand.

It has been estimated that if the worlds fisheries were run sustainably and distributed equitably, everybodys share would only give them two fish meals a month.

With the growing move to source fish from farms, Compassion in World Farming is urging the European Commission to more seriously consider the welfare of the fish in question.

Fish are sentient beings evidence from research indicates that fish are capable of experiencing pain, fear and psychological stress and that, like other vertebrates, they have the capacity to suffer and can be reduced to a state of chronic stress. Indeed fish are recognised as sentient beings by the EU Treaty.

However EU legislation gives very little protection to the welfare of fish despite Scientific Opinions by the European Food Safety Authority showing that there is a wide range of welfare problems on EU fish farms and at slaughter.

Scientific research shows that farmed fish suffer from: infectious diseases; soft tissue malformations and eye cataracts; damage to scales, skin and fins due to overcrowding and handling. Confined in cages, farmed fish are unable to evade algal blooms and jellyfish both of which can cause serious injuries.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) stresses that attacks by predators are a major welfare problem and that repeated or prolonged attack, or traumatic wounding, must cause suffering. The EFSA has also stressed that the industry should, as a matter of urgency, develop more humane slaughter methods.

Although the UK salmon and trout industries have taken steps to improve their slaughter methods, the slaughter of other species remains a major problem in the EU.

Furthermore, Compassion in World farming believes the EU must ban the use of genetically engineered (GM) fish.

There are no GM fish at present in EU fish farms but globally a great deal of scientific research has focussed on producing GM fish, often for faster growth. Scientific research shows that such genetic engineering has led to serious health and welfare problems in fish.

Serious deformities have been documented in salmon genetically engineered for accelerated growth, with abnormalities in the fishes heads and jaws.

The EU must make it clear that GM fish have no part to play in EU aquaculture.

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