Short profile


FishEthoScore of the species

Abbreviated assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.

Criteria Li Po Ce
1 Home range ?
2 Depth range ?
3 Migration ?
4 Reproduction
5 Aggregation ? ?
6 Aggression
7 Substrate
8 Stress
9 Malformation
10 Slaughter
FishEthoScore 1 2 2
Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential overall potential of the individuals of the species to experience welfare under improved farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential
 
                    ?     /  
  High    Medium     Low     Unclear  No findings
 
FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)



General remarks

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. Are minimal farming conditions likely to provide the home range of the species? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

?
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

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).

PARRWILD: usually 0.1-8 km [3] [4] [5] [1] [6] [7]FARM: tanks: 0.14 m[8].

SMOLTSWILD  PARRFARM: tanks: 9 m[8], 500-1300 m3, 14.5-20 m diameter [9]; sea cages: 24 x 24 m or 100 m in diameter [10]; 16,000-130,000 m[11].

ADULTS SMOLTS.

SPAWNERS: WILD: usually 0.1-4.4 km [12]. FARM: 46-90 m[8].


2. Are minimal farming conditions likely to provide the depth range of the species? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

?
Likelihood
H
Potential
M
Certainty

ALEVINS and FRY: WILD: usually <1 m [13] [14] [15] [16]FARM: hatchery trays and tanks: 20-50 cm [17].

PARR and SMOLTS: WILD: <6.5 m [13] [18] [19] [14] [15] [16] [4] [20] [6] [21] [7] [22]SMOLTSFARM: tanks: 3.5 to 4.5 m [9];  sea cages: maximum 18 m [10]

ADULTS: WILD: further research needed to identify depth range in the wild. FARM: sea cages: 5 m [23], 10 m [24], 15 m [25], 40 m [26], maximum 50 m [11].

KELTWILD: stay close to the surface [27] [28]

SPAWNERSWILD: usually 0.5-3 m within the spawning season [29]. FARM: no data found yet on spawning culture conditions.


3. Are minimal farming conditions compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

?
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

ANADROMOUS [30] [31] [1] [32] [33] [5]: migrate to the sea in spring-early summer, individuals return as grilse to their rivers of origin to spawn.

ALEVINSFRY and PARRWILDstationary [4] [34] [21]FARM: rearing in freshwater tanks 0-10 ppm [35] [10]. Stressed by use of artificial light at night [36].

SMOLTSWILD: migrate along freshwater to the sea [5]FARM: rearing in halocline and brackish water [37] [25] [38].

ADULTSWILD: lives in brackish and saltwater [39] [33]FARM: rearing in brackish and saltwater cages 20-34 ppm [38] [40] [41] [42].

SPAWNERSWILD: return as GRILSE to natal river to spawn [12]. FARM: rearing in freshwater tanks <10 ppm [43].

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.


4. Is the species likely to reproduce in captivity without manipulation? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

WILD: from June to November [44] [45]. The most dominant male salmon perform the majority of the courting and mating behaviours with the female [46]. Female builds redd [47] [48] [49] [50] [51]FARM: under farming conditions, eggs and milt are stripped [10] [17]


5. Is the aggregation imposed by minimal farming conditions likely to be compatible with the natural behaviour of the species? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

?
Likelihood
?
Potential
L
Certainty

ALEVINS and FRY: WILD: live solitary after emerging from the gravel but remain in the same areas as siblings [2] [52] [1]. FARM: intensive conditions: 50 kg/m3 or higher [10]; 21-86 kg/m[53].

PARR: WILD: live solitary or in small groups [54]. Further research needed on extension of groups in the wild. FARM: extensive conditions: 8 kg/m3; intensive conditions: 30 kg/m3 [55], 21-86 kg/m3 [53].

SMOLTSWILD: live in schools [56] [54] [1] [57]. Further research needed on extension of schools in the wild. FARM: under farming conditions, 15-35 kg/m[58] [24]: usually 20 kg/m3 [10]. < 22 kg/mbest welfare according Salmon Welfare Index model [38].

ADULTS SMOLTS.

SPAWNERS: live in schools [56] [54] [1] [57]. Further research needed on extension of schools in the wild. Rearing at low densities with unknown extension [10].


6. Is the species likely to be non-aggressive and non-territorial? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

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/m2FARM: 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]

ADULTS SMOLTS. More aggressive during matuaration [65], more aggressive at low speed currents [66].

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].


7. Are minimal farming conditions likely to match the natural substrate and shelter needs of the species? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
H
Certainty

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, ADULTSWILD: 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].

SPAWNERS: WILD: use substrate to build redds [49] [21]. FARM: no data found yet on the effect of missing environmental enrichment in farming conditions.


8. Are minimal farming conditions (handling, confinement etc.) likely not to stress the individuals of the species? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

ALEVINS and FRY: stressed by confinement [60] [78]. For stress and light at night  crit. 3.

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].

ADULTS: stressed by chilling, crowding [79] and handling [83].

 


9. Are malformations of this species likely to be rare under farming conditions? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

ALEVINS and FRYWILD: no data found yet on frequency of malformations. FARM: vertebral column deformities in >10% of individuals [78] [84]

PARR and SMOLTSWILD: no data found yet on frequency of malformations. FARM: vertebral and spinal deformities in >10% of individuals [85] [86] [87] [88] [89] [90].

ADULTSWILD: 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].


10. Is a humane slaughter protocol likely to be applied under minimal farming conditions? What overall welfare potential can be achieved? How certain are these findings?

H
Likelihood
H
Potential
H
Certainty

Common and high-standard slaughter method: a protocol for electrical and percussive stunning and killing by bleeding is available [92] [93] [94] [95].


Side note: Domestication

DOMESTICATION LEVEL 5 [96] [97], fully domesticated. Cultured since 19th century [10].


Side note: Feeding without components of forage fishery

WILD: carnivorous [10] [29] [98] [99] [100]. FARM: fish meal and fish oil may be mostly* replaced by plant protein [101] [102] [103] [104] [105], but no data found yet for ALEVINS and FRY.

* partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%


Glossary

ADULTS = mature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
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 farm environment
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
KELT = 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 that are kept as broodstock
WILD = setting in the wild


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