Fish & Fisheries News

Thursday March 7, 2024

International Catch Welfare

Support from The Fishmongers’ Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust (FCFCT) enabled key representatives to attend the first ever Catch Welfare Platform event in Bergen, Norway in November 2023. This kick-off conference aimed to bring the global seafood community together to form working groups that could collaborate on fish and shellfish welfare-related projects.

Members of the steering group: David Jarrad (Shellfish Association of Great Britain), Sophie Bennett (Seafish), Claire Pescod (Macduff Shellfish as Chair of the Crab and Lobster Management Group) and Mike Roach (National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and chair of the SAGB Crustacean Committee).

Welfare of wild capture species is increasingly important, particularly in the UK where recent changes to legislation (recognising crustaceans including brown crab and European lobster as sentient) have potential implications for seafood businesses. The attendees supported by FCFCT were members of the steering group that have been coordinating the development of voluntary codes of best practice for crustacean welfare alongside industry panels. The FCFCT grant enabled the members to build connections with others in the field and increase their awareness of how key players are responding to consumer pressure and changes in public perception.

The Catch Welfare Platform coordinators are working to develop their own codes of best practice for animal welfare in the seafood supply chain, so the event in Bergen was a great opportunity for the steering group members to introduce themselves to these individuals. The group were able to offer support and expertise given that they are somewhat leading the way with their UK-based work on decapod crustaceans – hopefully opening up opportunities for future international collaboration.

The conference provided a valuable opportunity to shine a light on technologies that are being developed to improve catch welfare in the UK:

  • SafetyNet Technologies have been developing uses for underwater cameras and lights in improving selectivity in demersal fishing trawls to avoid catching non-target species. Avoiding catching non-target species in the first place negates the risk of welfare impacts on fish that could be returned to the sea.
  • Optimar – a designer of automated fish processing systems – have been collaborating with large UK-based retailers to develop electrical stunning machines for use onboard UK Nephrops trawlers and at warm water shrimp farms that export to the UK. Stunning is conducted prior to killing or tailing to enable humane dispatch before processing.

A key take-home message from the event is that animal welfare is very much on the agenda for the seafood industry, and not just for crustaceans. The knowledge and science represented in the Catch Welfare Platform is likely to play a key role in future innovations around animal welfare in the seafood supply chain, so it was incredibly useful for the group to attend to ensure this is on the radar of key UK organisations!

Information on the Catch welfare platform can be found here. For further news of the launch of the voluntary codes of practice, please keep an eye out on the Seafish website or contact for more details.

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