Like other animals, fish can experience pain and suffering. With aquaculture (the farming of fish) set to be one of the fastest-growing animal protein production sectors in the world, it’s important that fish are farmed to high animal welfare standards, including humane handling and slaughter.
Firstly though, what about wild-caught fish?
A key animal welfare concern with wild-caught fish (as well as farmed fish) is how they are slaughtered. Common ways to kill fish include by asphyxiation (from being taken out of water), exposure to very low temperatures (by placing them on ice) or from bleeding out without stunning (through the gutting process). Given these methods can take minutes to hours to induce insensibility and can cause significant suffering for fish, these should not be considered humane ways to slaughter fish. Adherence to standards around the careful handling and effective stunning of fish prior to slaughter is important and, for wild-caught fish, the RSPCA strongly supports further research and development in how to effectively and humanely stun and kill fish when they are caught in the wild.
What does RSPCA Approved mean on salmon products?
Being RSPCA Approved means the fish have been raised with consideration of their welfare throughout their entire life, from the time they are hatched right through to slaughter.
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for farmed Atlantic salmon are detailed and were developed with consideration of animal welfare science, RSPCA policy, and Australian-specific farming practices. They focus on providing salmon with oxygen-rich water to swim in, enough space to swim effortlessly and perform schooling behaviours, close monitoring to ensure good health, low stress handling, and stunning at slaughter (which is important for a humane death).
Being RSPCA Approved also means regular assessments by specialised RSPCA Assessors, to ensure the standards are being met. Last year alone, 18 assessments were conducted at locations where RSPCA Approved fish are bred, raised and slaughtered.
Who is Huon Aquaculture?
Huon Aquaculture is a fish farming company based in Tasmania. It was founded in 1986 by Peter and Frances Bender. The company has a strong focus on fish welfare and is the first (and only) farmed Atlantic salmon producer to meet RSPCA Approved standards and to go through the rigorous assessment process.
What to look for
For shoppers looking to buy higher welfare seafood, look out for the RSPCA Approved logo on pre-packaged Huon RSPCA Approved Salmon in NSW Coles stores.
Find out more answers to questions about how the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is improving the lives of farmed salmon.