Welfare, health and individuality in farmed fish (WIN-FISH) (39236)

Project Details


In modern aquaculture, production costs are the major driver. This has resulted in culture practices and rearing environments aimed at maximizing production capacity. Consequently, fish are exposed to unavoidable stressors, which can be detrimental to animal health and welfare. Moreover, it is increasingly clear that individuality in stress reactions have to be included in the concept of animal welfare. Such differences often take the form of suites of traits, or stress coping styles (SCS), where traits like sympathetic reactivity, aggression and the tendency follow and develop routines show positive relationships. In addition, these traits show a negative relationship with plasma cortisol levels and are also associated with differences in immune function.

The project will validate behavioural and physiological welfare indicators for selected fish species at the individual and rearing unit level. This will generate new information about responses to environmental factors, knowledge that can be applied to improve husbandry and management practices. Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) have been developed as a sustainable alternative with low ecological consequences compared to traditional flow through systems. However, in RAS factors such as higher rearing densities and water quality parameters may challenge the welfare of fish.

In WIN-FISH, health, welfare and production related effects of RAS rearing of species at different densities will be monitored. In order to account for individual variation, these studies will be performed on fish screened for SCS. Similarly, in flow through systems, health, welfare and production related effects of rearing densities will be further investigated in sea bream differing in SCS.

Generally, environmental enrichment has positive effects on animal welfare. WIN-FISH will investigate effects of environmental enrichment on rainbow trout with contrasting SCS. In an attempt to generate genetic markers for selective breeding to optimize performance and welfare of farmed Atlantic salmon, a genome-wide association analysis will be performed on salmon with divergent SCS, focusing on proactive fish differing in aggressive behaviour. In addition, zebrafish will be used as a model to gain additional knowledge on mechanisms underlying SCS and aggressive behaviour.

DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources  (coordinator)
French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, France
Complutense University of Madrid, Spain
IRTA, Catalonia
Uppsala University, Sweden
Italian Health Authority and Research Organization for Animal Health and Food Safety, Italy

This project is funded by EU, Framework Programme 7.

Research area: Aquaculture
Effective start/end date18/05/2015 → 17/05/2018