Version: B | 1.1 (2021-12-23)
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)
Epinephelus malabaricus is a highly valued fish in Asian markets, farmed commercially in ponds and net cages. Its great potential comes from easy rearing, fast growth to commercial size, and excellent texture and flavour of its flesh. There are no FAO aquaculture statistics referring to E. malabaricus, and in general there is limited information on current farming conditions making it difficult to assess this species' potential in aquaculture. Several biological aspects such as reproduction without manipulation, sensitivity to handling, and humane slaughter are limiting welfare.
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 and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
ADULTS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: ➝ JUVENILES.
SPAWNERS: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.
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?It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.
JUVENILES: WILD: 0-150 m 5. Found nearshore and in estuaries 5 6. In E. marginatus, estuary populations in the Indo-Pacific 7. Further research needed to establish whether this applies to E. malabaricus as well. FARM: tanks: 1.5-2 m 8 9; cages: 2-3 m 8 9. LAB: tanks: 1.1 m 10; cages: 2 m 4.
ADULTS: ➝ JUVENILES.
SPAWNERS: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.
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 and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE: WILD: found in a variety of habitats: coral and rocky reefs, tide pools, lagoons, estuaries, mangrove swamps, and sandy/mud bottom 5. FARM: brackish water 31-33 ppt 11. For details of holding systems crit. 1 and 2.
JUVENILES: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: brackish water 20-32 ppt 2. For details of holding systems crit. 1 and 2.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: ➝ JUVENILES.
SPAWNERS: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: no data found yet.
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.
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?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
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 low amount of evidence.
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.
LARVAE: stress-related disease due to poor environmental conditions, inadequate diet, poor husbandry techniques, and handling 18.
JUVENILES: stress-related disease due to poor environmental conditions, inadequate diet, poor husbandry techniques, and handling 18. Stressed by sudden salinity changes, namely 24 ppt to 14, 19, 29, and 34 ppt 19.
ADULTS: ➝ LARVAE.
SPAWNERS: ➝ LARVAE.
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?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
JUVENILES: FARM: skeletal deformations 20, hyper-inflated swim bladder 18. Further research needed on frequency of malformations. LAB: in E. marginatus, 75.8% skeletal deformations when reared at 28 IND/L as LARVAE 1. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to E. malabaricus as well.
ADULTS: FARM: hyper-inflated swim bladder 18. Further research needed on frequency of malformations.
SPAWNERS: ➝ LARVAE.
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 low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
Common slaughter method: hypothermia in ice-water slurry 4. High-standard slaughter method: no data found yet.
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?
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 2 21, level 5 being fully domesticated.
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%
AMPHIDROMOUS = migrating between fresh water and sea independent of spawning
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 2 = part of the life cycle closed in captivity, also known as capture-based aquaculture 21
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
IND = individuals
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, 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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