IN a bid to help farmers reduce the incidence and severity of injuries and deformities in their fish, a team of international scientists have recently published a review paper that aims to synthesise practical up-to-date knowledge on this matter.
Fish farmers and capture-based aquaculturists constantly strive to improve their production practices, with the specific aims of improving production efficiency, product quality and fish welfare. “These aims are not mutually exclusive. By optimising production, farmers can also improve fish welfare,” says lead author, Nofima’s Chris Noble.
Researchers, producers and consumers are increasingly interested in fish welfare, and this has led to numerous industry-led improvements in daily husbandry practices. These production practices not only improve the lives of farmed fish, but also improve the quality of fish further down the value chain. In addition, producers who implement welfare friendly production practices are increasingly rewarded in the market place – fish raised to high welfare standards can gain additional price premiums.
As part of an EU COST initiative on fish welfare, four Nofima scientists teamed up with collaborators from Canada, the UK, Australia and Spain to write a review paper on how producers can eliminate or combat factors that lead to injuries and deformities in farmed fish. The paper provides producers with operational solutions a range of farmed species through the production cycle.
“We wrote the paper to help farmers identify risk factors for injury during the production cycle and also highlighted any practices that can reduce or mitigate these risks,” says co-author Bjørn-Steinar Sæther, also of Nofima.
The scientists used the same approach for capture-based aquaculture as for aquaculture. The paper focuses on external injuries to the mouth, eye, epidermis and fins, and covers topics including feed management, nutrition, handling and live transport.
It collates the latest findings and provides producers with state-of-the-art knowledge on the subject, bringing together research from over 175 scientific publications. It was driven by the needs of the farming and capture-based aquaculture community and is in a format that is both informative and user friendly.
A sister paper, focusing on internal injuries, is planned for 2013.
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