Humane slaughter in pelagic fishery (39896)

Project Details


The vast majority of fish killed by humans are done so in the pelagic fisheries industry. In the Danish pelagic fisheries alone, around 30 billion fish are estimated to be killed every year making it, by numbers, the largest in the EU. Yet, when it comes to the welfare of fish little attention has been given the fish caught by pelagic fisheries. One reason for this might be that pelagic fisheries mainly target small fish species used for fish oil and fish meal - species that evidently are caught and killed in billions but only rarely discussed in the perspectives of fish welfare. According our collaborating fishermen the ratio of fish that are already dead when pumped onto the fishing vessel range from 0-100%. The underlying reason for this high variation is largely unknown.

However, the fish that are alive when brought aboard the fishing vessel are problematic from a fish welfare perspective. This is because fish caught by pelagic fisheries are normally not actively killed on board the vessel, but are instead typically pumped from the ocean into tanks filled with chilled seawater where they left for further processing ashore. Such events cause practical and ethical problems for the personnel at the processing factories and is unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective. Considering the magnitude of this welfare hazard and the enormous number of fish affected, improvements in the slaughter in pelagic fishery should be of highest priority. In this project we will focus on the welfare of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from the point when they are pumped onto the fishing vessel until they are dead, with the main goal being to assess and describe the welfare of Atlantic herring caught and killed in pelagic fisheries.

National Institute of Aquatic Resources, DTU Aqua
Animal Protection Denmark, Denmark (coordinator)
Danish Pelagic Producer Organization, Denmark
Danish Technological Institute, Denmark
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

The project is funded by Open Philanthropy.

Research area: Fish Biology
Effective start/end date01/05/202131/12/2022


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