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What can be done to improve the welfare of fish and shellfish in restaurant aquaria?

Article ID: 612
Last updated: 07 Jan, 2015
Revision: 8
Views: 2275

RSPCA Australia considers that the available scientific evidence demonstrates that fish are sentient animals capable of experiencing pain and suffering. Fish must therefore be treated humanely and practices that have the potential to cause pain, injury or suffering avoided.

Live fish and shellfish may be held in aquaria in restaurants or retail outlets prior to being killed for human consumption. Consideration needs to be given to the treatment of these to ensure their welfare is not compromised.

There are many factors that influence the health and welfare of fish held in aquaria but the most important single issue is water quality.
The restaurant or retailer should firstly ensure that they source healthy fish from their supplier and that the aquarium meets the species-specific requirements of the fish or shellfish being held. Freshwater fish must be placed in a freshwater tank, saltwater fish must be placed in a saltwater tank.
 
The quality of the water will determine optimal conditions for fish in the aquarium. Tanks should be provided with bubbling air to supply fish with plenty of oxygen but also to help remove carbon dioxide. A filter should be in place to ensure tank water is always clean and clear, without waste products. The temperature of the water should be appropriate to the species contained within the tank. Similarly, water pH (a measure of acidity or alkalinity) must be comparable to the water from where the fish originally came.
 
Finally, fish and shellfish should be killed humanely and as soon as they are taken out of the water. 
 
Guidelines for restaurants and retailers have been developed through the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy  providing basic information for holding a range of fish and shellfish species in aquaria as well as advice on the most humane way to kill fish and shellfish. These guidelines are available in English, Chinese and Vietnamese and are attached below.


This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person's unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Attached files
file Fish welfare - Seafood - Vietnamese.pdf (1.64 mb)
file Fish welfare - Seafood - Chinese.pdf (1.7 mb)
file Fish welfare - Seafood - English.pdf (1.63 mb)

Also read
document RSPCA Policy E08 Fish and aquatic invertebrates
document Do fish feel pain?
document Are fish protected by animal welfare legislation?
document What is the most humane way to kill a fish intended for eating?
document Are crustaceans protected by animal welfare legislation?

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How can fish caught in commercial fishing be killed humanely?     What does the RSPCA think about bluewater fishing?