In 2018, fifty two percent of global fish production for human consumption was aquaculture-based fishery . With reduced abundance of wild caught fish stocks and increasing demand for seafood, this percentage is likely to increase in the future. Aquaculture is seen as an alternative to global and domestic decline in wild caught fish stocks. The rise in disposable incomes and awareness of the health benefits of eating fish is expected to see an expansion of the industry.
Seafood is part of most Australians’ staple diet. Seafood is the fourth most consumed meat in Australia following poultry, beef and pork. In 2019-20, the most popular species of seafood consumed were salmonids (salmon and trout), tuna, prawns, oysters, scallops, crabs and lobsters . Of these species, prawns, tuna, oysters and salmon may all be farmed. Salmonid aquaculture, with ~66,000t of fish produced in 2019-20, is by far the biggest fish farming enterprise .
When animals, including fish, are farmed for food, we need to care about their welfare from birth all the way through to slaughter. Animals must 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 animals ensure their welfare is an integral part of every aspect of production every day. For fish, this includes providing enough space to swim normally in clean, oxygen-rich water, handling fish in a manner that avoids stress, and stunning to ensure unconsciousness at the time of slaughter.