Testing ethical cod

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
9 January 2007, at 12:00am

NORWAY - Does good fish welfare lead to better quality of farmed cod? Scientists want to find the answer by testing farmed cod that is produced in an ethically responsible way.

From salmon farming, we know that handling before slaughtering, with pumping and anaesthesia, for example, stresses the salmon and leads to reduced quality of the fish meat.

Cod farming is experiencing strong growth, and knowledge about production, quality and consumer requirements is thus important.

Large European project
In a large European project, consumers tested two different groups of cod.

One group was raised in so-called intensive production, which involves, amongst other things, a high density of fish and lower water consumption and therefore poorer water quality.

The other group had the best possible conditions with good space and optimal water quality.

At killing, a selection from each group was handled in two different ways: it was stressed before killing, or it received gentle and calm treatment.

What do the consumers think?
"One of the purposes of the project is to get answers to whether this type of ethical production, where the cod is killed gently without stress, actually results in better quality", says Senior Scientist Børge Damsgård at Fiskeriforskning.

He is one of several scientists in different fields and from several research institutions that are involved in the work.

"We also want more knowledge about how consumers react to these products. For example, will they buy more cod when they know it is produced in an ethically responsible way?"

Poorer growth
In the project, the entire production process is documented up until the cod is eaten. The complete results will be available in the spring of 2007. But the conclusions from the phase when the cod were juveniles are ready.

"It is evident that the growth was clearly poorer for the group that was raised intensively. The group that had optimal conditions had 20-30 % better growth", says Senior Scientist Hilde Toften.

The project is a collaboration amongst research institutions in Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Iceland. From Norway, the Norwegian College of Fishery Science and Fiskeriforskning are participating. The project is a part of the research programme SEAFOODplus.

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