The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme aims to improve the welfare of as many farm animals as possible by providing an environment that better meets their behavioural needs. The Scheme has recently published animal welfare standards for farmed Atlantic salmon.
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. It is essential that those responsible for managing farmed fish ensure fish welfare is an integral part of every aspect of production every day.
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for farmed Atlantic salmon focus on meeting the fish’s physical and behavioural needs. The Standards require that all persons managing fish are trained and competent in their required tasks; that handling of fish is carried out in a manner that is low stress; and that all husbandry and management practices limit any negative impacts on the fish. The Standards aim to ensure that fish be held in water of good quality and that farming practices aim to provide all fish with sufficient oxygen and feed; freedom from injury, stress, deformation or disease; the ability to exhibit normal swimming and schooling behaviour and to escape aggressive encounters. The RSPCA standards also require that a farmed Atlantic salmon producer be compliant with a recognised, third-party audited certification program that promotes best environmental practice.