Version: B | 1.1 (2021-12-22)
Please note: This part of the profile is currently being revised.
Condensed assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for good fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.
Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience good welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential of the individuals of the species to experience good welfare under high-standard farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential
FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)
Despite the fact that Salmo salar is the most farmed fish in Europe, more ﬁne-tuned culture strategies are needed to improve ﬁsh welfare and performance of this species. The low FishEthoScore is mainly due to the dependence on fish in the diet, home range needs, high levels of aggression, needs of substrate, stress under farming conditions and high levels of deformations.
It is recommended to ensure proper space, at least in the vertical sense, according to the biological needs which seems to be satisfied in sea cages, but not in raceways. The development of new rearing strategies to optimise the husbandry practices such as matching the biological rhythms with e.g. feeding activities or unavoidable but often stressful husbandry procedures would be a step forward to solving some specific welfare concerns, to prevent poor welfare and to minimise stress, improving fish welfare, fish performance and reduce stress. Replacing fish meal and fish oil in the feed by plant-based or sustainable sources would ensure an ethical food production. Semi-intensive and extensive farming could be a remediation for some of the current problems and help improving fish welfare and performance.
1 Home range
Many species traverse in a limited horizontal space (even if just for a certain period of time per year); the home range may be described as a species' understanding of its environment (i.e., its cognitive map) for the most important resources it needs access to. What is the probability of providing the species' whole home range in captivity?There are unclear findings for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
ALEVINS, FRY: WILD: planktonic as ALEVINS 1: horizontal movement limited to hydrodynamic displacement. FRY move 1-5 m from the redd 2. FARM: hatchery: most common, vertical trays: variable size frames: 60 cm wide 44-175 cm high (Aquatec.com).
ADULTS: ➝ SMOLTS.
2 Depth range
Given the availability of resources (food, shelter) or the need to avoid predators, species spend their time within a certain depth range. What is the probability of providing the species' whole depth range in captivity?There are unclear findings for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
SPAWNERS: WILD: usually 0.5-3 m within the spawning season 29. FARM: no data found yet on spawning culture conditions.
Some species undergo seasonal changes of environments for different purposes (feeding, spawning, etc.) and with them, environmental parameters (photoperiod, temperature, salinity) may change, too. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species?There are unclear findings for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
All age classes: further research needed on welfare parameters to determine whether presenting species with conditions of different migratory phases indeed satisfies their urge to migrate or whether they need to experience the transition.
A species reproduces at a certain age, season, and sex ratio and possibly involving courtship rituals. What is the probability of the species reproducing naturally in captivity without manipulation?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
Species differ in the way they co-exist with conspecifics or other species from being solitary to aggregating unstructured, casually roaming in shoals or closely coordinating in schools of varying densities. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the aggregation behaviour of the species?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
SMOLTS: WILD: live in schools 56 54 1 57. Further research needed on extension of schools in the wild. FARM: under farming conditions, 15-35 kg/m3 58 24: usually 20 kg/m3 10. < 22 kg/m3 best welfare according Salmon Welfare Index model 38.
ADULTS: ➝ SMOLTS.
There is a range of adverse reactions in species, spanning from being relatively indifferent towards others to defending valuable resources (e.g., food, territory, mates) to actively attacking opponents. What is the probability of the species being non-aggressive and non-territorial in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
ALEVINS and FRY: WILD: aggressive and territorial after emerging from the gravel 2. LAB: aggressive in pairwise interactions 59 60 and groups of 10 52; aggression increases with fish density, from 3 to 9 individuals/m2. FARM: no data found yet on aggression behaviour under farming conditions.
PARR: WILD: territorial and aggressive 61 62. LAB: individual differences in metabolism related aggressive behaviour 63. FARM: more aggressive at high 30 kg/m3 than low 8 kg/m3 density 55, aggression increases with feed restriction 64.
SMOLTS: WILD: schooling behaviour 56 61 62 57. FARM: lower levels of aggression at feeding time under 25 kg/m3 than under 15 and 30 kg/m3 58. Not aggressive in 1,000-1,200 m3 sea-cages of 10 x 10 x 15 m at 0.85 kg/m3 24.
SPAWNERS: WILD: schooling behaviour during migration 56 61 62 57. Dominance hierarchy during the spawning period in the wild 67 and in the lab 68. FARM: non-linear dominance hierarchies at 15.2 kg/m3 69.
Depending on where in the water column the species lives, it differs in interacting with or relying on various substrates for feeding or covering purposes (e.g., plants, rocks and stones, sand and mud). What is the probability of providing the species' substrate and shelter needs in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.
ALEVINS and FRY:LAB: absence of substrate did not affect the ontogeny and behaviour 52, but the use of artificial substrate (polyethylene astro-turf) favoured growth 70; low survival in sand compared to rocks and stones 71. FARM: under farming conditions, use artificial hatching substrate 10 17.
PARR, SMOLTS, ADULTS: WILD: prefer habitats with rocks and stones 6; use substrate as cover from predators and adverse environmental conditions 21 72 73 74. FARM: providing cover increased growth rate and improved stress 75; smoltification process dependent on the number of shelters provided 76. LAB: vertically-suspended structures provided 77.
Farming involves subjecting the species to diverse procedures (e.g., handling, air exposure, short-term confinement, short-term crowding, transport), sudden parameter changes or repeated disturbances (e.g., husbandry, size-grading). What is the probability of the species not being stressed?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
PARR and SMOLTS: stressed by acute handling 62, temperature shock 79 80 81, chasing, netting, noise, sudden darkness with intermittent light, hypoxia and emptying the tank 81. SMOLTS: stressed more by loading than transport 82.
Deformities that – in contrast to diseases – are commonly irreversible may indicate sub-optimal rearing conditions (e.g., mechanical stress during hatching and rearing, environmental factors unless mentioned in crit. 3, aquatic pollutants, nutritional deficiencies) or a general incompatibility of the species with being farmed. What is the probability of the species being malformed rarely?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
ADULTS: WILD: vertebral deformities in >10% of individuals, severity of malformations are low compared with farmed salmon 91. FARM: vertebral and spinal deformities in >10% of individuals 85 87 88 89.
The cornerstone for a humane treatment is that slaughter a) immediately follows stunning (i.e., while the individual is unconscious), b) happens according to a clear and reproducible set of instructions verified under farming conditions, and c) avoids pain, suffering, and distress. What is the probability of the species being slaughtered according to a humane slaughter protocol?It is high for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.
Side note: Domestication
Teletchea and Fontaine introduced 5 domestication levels illustrating how far species are from having their life cycle closed in captivity without wild input, how long they have been reared in captivity, and whether breeding programmes are in place. What is the species’ domestication level?
Side note: Forage fish in the feed
450-1,000 milliard wild-caught fishes end up being processed into fish meal and fish oil each year which contributes to overfishing and represents enormous suffering. There is a broad range of feeding types within species reared in captivity. To what degree may fish meal and fish oil based on forage fish be replaced by non-forage fishery components (e.g., poultry blood meal) or sustainable sources (e.g., soybean cake)?
* partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%
ALEVINS = larvae until the end of yolk sac absorption, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
ANADROMOUS = migrating from the sea into fresh water to spawn
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 5 = selective breeding programmes are used focusing on specific goals 96
FARM = setting in farming environment or under conditions simulating farming environment in terms of size of facility or number of individuals
FRY = larvae from external feeding on, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
GRILSE = adults returning from sea to home river to spawn, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
KELTS = adults surviving spawning, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
PARR = juvenile stage in rivers, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
SMOLTS = juvenile stage migrating to the sea, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
SPAWNERS = adults during the spawning season; in farms: adults that are kept as broodstock
WILD = setting in the wild
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