News from fair-fish: December 2021

We welcome you to our year’s end newsletter. fair-fish international and the FishEthoGroup are proud to share their news with you.

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Thank you for your interest. Enjoy reading.


Carefish/catch: Reduce animal suffering at sea


Part of the catch of an Italian trawler (photo: Studer/fair-fish)

The FishEthoBase and the resulting Carefish projects in research and consultation for the welfare of farmed fish are gaining noticeable attention in science and practice. Compared to the modest beginnings in 2000 when fair-fish was founded and in 2013 when its FishEthoBase was launched, this is an unexpectedly rapid and great success of which we can be proud. In aquaculture, fair-fish and the FishEthoGroup have become safe values for the welfare of fish.

But what about the fishes caught in the seas, lakes and rivers? This will exactly be the subject of a four-year research project that fair-fish and FishEthoGroup were able to launch this year, thanks to a generous funding by Open Philanthropy and thanks to the collaboration with the other three partners in the project consortium: Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), Friend of the Sea, and DeMoS Institute. Our goal: to develop guidelines for fisheries to keep animal suffering as low and short as possible.


No fish no future


fair-fish international launched its short film NO FISH NO FUTURE on the struggle of artisanal fishermen in Senegal against depletion by industrial trawlers from Europe and Asia.

Fishing is the most important economic sector in the West African Republic of Senegal. Fishing agreements also allow large fishing vessels from Europe and Asia to catch fish. This makes life increasingly difficult for the local fishermen. Often their catch is not even enough to pay for the fuel for the outboard engine. More and more Senegalese fishermen are secretly emigrating to Europe in the vague hope of earning what their families back home need to survive.

In the summer of 2020, it became known that the Senegalese government wanted to issue fishing licences to another 50 Chinese vessels. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. The fishermen and civil society fought back—with success: the government withdrew its plan.

The fair-fish international association supports the resistance of the Senegalese fisher families with this video. Would you like to boost our continued support with a donation? (If so, please mention "Senegal". Thank you!)

Whistleblower against fish robbery


Trawling for Samherji in Namibian waters (photo: pad)

Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former fisheries manager from Iceland who had been sent by Iceland's biggest fish industry company Samherji to Namibia, one day could not keep quiet anymore about the criminal practices of his company which literally robbed the rich fishing grounds of a poor country. He became a whistleblower against this heavy fishrot case, has then been the target of several poisoning attacks which he hardly survived, and is now documenting the whole case on an all-embracing website . Worthwhile to give it more than a glance!

fair-fish international has supported the set-up of the fishrot website and is ready to continue in supporting Stefánsson’s work. Donations with the subject “fishrot” will be fully forwarded to him. Thank you!


Save the date: Summer Shoal 2022 and…


Corona torpedoed the fourth edition of our "Summer Shoal on Fish Ethology and Welfare" in 2020 and again this year. Let's be optimistic for 2022, finally! Therefore, please mark the days from June 28 (arrival) to July 1 (departure) in your agenda if you are interested in a two full days meeting under the pines exchanging knowledge and ideas with scientists, practitioners in aquaculture and fisheries, marketers, NGOs and state officers. We look forward to meeting you in the beautiful and calm resort Pedras d'el Rei east of Faro, next to the Atlantic coast in southern Portugal. Programme and registration details will follow in February.

Our third Fish Welfare Course for aquaculturists and related occupations will be announced later.

The European Aquaculture Society (EAS) will be organising its Aquaculture Europe 2022 event from September 27-30 in Rimini, Italy. The theme of AE2022 is “Innovative Solutions in a Changing World”, including a fish wlfare session to be chaired by João Saraiva. Abstracts can be submitted from now through the web site and the abstract deadline is May 1, 2022.

New species profiles in the FishEthoBase


Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) (Photo: Harka Akos/Wikimedia)

After the Indian major carps, we attended to the Chinese major carps, paying tribute to Asia being the largest stakeholder of the aquaculture industry worldwide. Black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus ), Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix ), and Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis ) are often raised in earthen pond polyculture with other species. Each species has its individual role in these polycultures depending on its feeding habits: Black carp is a biocontrol for molluscs, Silver and Bighead carp feed on phytoplankton and thus function as filter-feeding water quality improvement. The low FishEthoScores result from poor knowledge about natural needs and from the impossibility of reproduction without manipulation in captivity.

We extended our repertoire of salmonids with one species that is reared in a single lake: Lake Garda carpione (Salmo carpio ). Again, missing findings made scoring of welfare not easy and are part of the reason of a low FishEthoScore.

We also added another sturgeon species mainly reared for caviar: Kaluga (Huso dauricus ). A second aspect of its farming is re-stocking of the endangered wild populations. To do so, more research on basic needs is essential to prepare the individuals best for their release into the wild.

New shocking paper on environmental enrichment


Example of structural enrichment of a trout raceway (photo: Studer/fair-fish)

Our FishEthoGroup researchers Pablo Arechavala-Lopez, María Cabrera-Álvarez, Caroline Maia and João Saraiva recently published a review paper about environmental enrichment (EE) strategies in aquaculture. Under farming conditions, the captive environment is frequently bare and monotonous for fishes. Moreover, many farm operations can be stressful for these animals. In this scenario, EE strategies can be an useful tool to help improving fish welfare. The authors discussed potential applications of different EE strategies at a commercial scale and propose a practical framework to address the design, validation and implementation of EE by the aquaculture industry.

Reference: Arechavala‐Lopez, P., Cabrera‐Álvarez, M. J., Maia, C. M., & Saraiva, J. L. (2021). Environmental enrichment in fish aquaculture: A review of fundamental and practical aspects. Reviews in Aquaculture.

Talks we held recently


Pablo Arechavala-Lopez speaking at Aquaculture Europe 2021

Scientific dissemination is an important activity aiming to help improving the welfare of farmed fishes in a practical way. This year, the FishEthoGroup had great opportunities to spread the word and share knowledge about fish behaviour and welfare in important scientific events around the world—mostly we were invited for! Team members made 15 presentations as talks so far during meetings, webinars and conferences hosted by European countries, besides Nigeria and Brazil!

In the webinar "Unlocking the potential of tilapia aquaculture: innovation, welfare and sustainable development", which was organized by FAI Farms and The Fish Site, the FishEthoGroup also participated helping to conduct the event, a successful one! A new webinar in similar molds started to be prepared for the next year. More recently, FishEthoGroup had a wide participation with different talks and poster presentations in Aquaculture Europe 2021, a conference organised by the European Aquaculture Society. The presentations mainly dealt with the effects of environmental enrichment strategies for different farmed fishes, but also included preference responses of fishes for enrichments and its swimming activity patterns.

The FishEthoGroup also made a video presentation in a south America event called "XXXVIII Encontro Anual de Etologia & III Reunião de Biologia do Comportamento do Cone Sul". We presented the assessment of farmed fish welfare by the FishEthoBase. It was a great opportunity to talk about our FishEthoBase project and how it can be used to assess and improve the welfare of farmed fishes in a practical way. So, we end the year with such important participations in scientific events hoping for new opportunities like these for next year.

Finally, João Saraiva presented a talk entitled “Fish have minds but who minds the fish” at the webinar "The need for welfare legislation for aquatic animals” held at the European Parliament (Brussels, Belgium).

Caroline Marques Maia

Dissemination via social media


This year we have made important upgrades in scientific dissemination through social media and the website of FishEthoGroup. A LinkedIn profile was created. Moreover, FishEthoGroup profiles on Facebook, Twitter and also on this new LinkedIn page are now weekly updated. Our group's website was reorganised and more content was added, such as all our activities related to scientific dissemination. The website also started to be updated regularly with FishEthoGroup news.

Another upgrade is the FishEthoGroup page in the blog called "Consciência Animal " for scientific dissemination related to the profiles of the farmed fishes already published in the FishEthoBase. This blog is part of the biggest network of science blogs in the world! The blog posts are made in English, with a Portuguese translation.  Moreover, this year the FishEthoGroup also started to work with small videos to disseminate information in social media. Two videos were already launched and the feedback from the users has been great so far!

Caroline Marques Maia

fair-fish annual report 2020


Ever wanted to read more about what fair-fish international is doing, and how, and by what means?
Find our annual reports here.

Season's suggestions


Should you have expected us to suggest some last minute Xmas presents, you might be interested in our fair-fish book, in our book on "Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes" , in Jonathan Balcombe's "What a Fish Knows", in Callum Robert's "The Ocean of Life " or in Ruth Kassinger “Slime. How Algae Created Us” , to name just a few of all the books that lead the reader to a deeper understanding—and love—for life beneath the water surface.

Did you look for any other suggestion? It need not necessarily be fish or seafood for the feast, but if, please have a responsible choice.

So far our news for today; thank you for readig. Should you have any idea, question or remark, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best wishes and warm season’s greetings,

The team of fair-fish international and the FishEthoGroup