News from fair-fish: June 2021

A warm welcome to our spring newsletter. fair-fish international and the FishEthoGroup have been busy and are eager to share some of their news with you.

Should you be interested in reading also our German newsletter (monthly, of partly different content) simply update your registered profile by setting the language choice box to "both".

Thank your for your interest. Enjoy reading.

Summer Shoal 2021 cancelled

With a heavy heart, but with clear head we followed the rule “If you can’t do it the proper way, don’t do it at all” and decided to renounce, this year again, at inviting to the Summer Shoal. The pandemic situation is simply too uncertain. To gather in September, we should have published the call for talks and for registration by end of April at the latest, but who knows how things will develop?
We considered holding the Summer Shoal online, but we did not find any format that would resemble the very special setting we had so well experienced in the years before. We even thought of gathering in person with those who will be able to travel and to make prevented participants join online, yet this would have burdened the event with technical equipment around the circle under the pines, exactly the contrary of the Shoal’s consciously simple format.
Thus, promised, let’s look forward to a marvellous Summer Shoal near Faro in early summer 2022!

Billo Heinzpeter Studer
Photo: Snapshot from the Summer Shoal 2019 near Faro Studer)

New: The fish test

Which fish can we actually still eat? As consumers, we are often overwhelmed by how and, above all, on the basis of which criteria we should make this decision.

Which fish stocks are overfished? Which fishing methods are the least pain- and stressful for the fish and the least damaging to the environment? Can we assume that a label can always give us absolution for consumption? And how much fish can we actually still consume to counteract overfishing?

Our fish-test—finally available also in English—guides consumers step by step through these questions and helps in the decision-making process. For each fish species recorded, the fish test provides information on fishing areas, fishing methods, and catches per year, both in terms of tonnage and number of animals. This way, the consumer learns, as if on a didactic path, what criteria are important when buying fish, and what alternatives there are to a fish that is not recommended.

Rahel Salathé
(Photo: John Harvey/Wikimedia)

New publications from our team

Two books by fair-fish
In our newsletter of last November we announced two publications from fair-fish in German—now both books are avalable also in English:

  • Billo Heinzpeter Studer, FAIR-FISH—Because You Shouldn't Tickle Fishes. More information here.
  • Fish welfare in aquaculture—problems and approaches. With contributions of experts within and around the FishEthoGroup, edited by Billo Heinzpeter Studer and published by the International Society of Livestock Husbandry (IGN) in its "Animal Husbandry in the Focus" series. Free download.

New report by the FishEthoGroup discussed in the European Parliament
The purpose of the study “Particular welfare needs in animal transport: aquatic animals” is to analyse the particular welfare needs in live animal transport of aquatic animals. The in-depth analysis describes the key causes of suffering in relation to the needs of farmed fish, and explores strengths and weaknesses in the EU regulation and in current guidelines. Recommendations are made to mitigate the many welfare challenges identified in the study.

Saraiva, J. L, Arechavala-Lopez, P, Cabrera-Álvarez, M. J & Waley, D 2021, Research for ANIT Committee – Particular welfare needs in animal transport: aquatic animals, European Parliament, Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, Brussels
This document is available on the internet

News from the FishEthoBase

We began research on the Indian major carps and finished the short profiles of Catla (Labeo catla ) and Mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala ). The third carp, Roho labeo (Laebo rohita), is still under review.

Asia, by far, leads the worldwide aquaculture production, and carps are the most frequently farmed species in Asia. In India, different carps are often raised together in polyculture systems in large earthen ponds. This works because of lack of aggression, different depth use, and different feeding habits. Bamboo poles are added to the bottom as environmental enrichment and – when they have collected periphyton – as additional food for some carp species. Although these conditions sound natural, the FishEthoScore is low because there is so little knowledge on the natural life of the carps that we cannot compare. Further research is urgently needed.

In parallel, we add more salmonids—recently Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) . Due to migration between fresh water (as nursery and for spawning) and saltwater the prerequisites for rearing in captivity are already limited. Also, captivity may only accommodate depth need, natural reproduction, aggregation, and substrate preferences in a restricted manner which explains the low FishEthoScore.

Jenny Volstorf
Photo: Cirrhinus mrigala (R. Mintern/Wikimedia)

Aquaculture Europe Conference

The European Aquaculture Society organised the postponed AE2020 conference which took place online from April 12-15, 2021. As it couldn't be otherwise, there was representation from our FishEthoGroup researchers, contributing on two different sessions. At the “fish welfare” session, we presented results from our studies about the potential of environmental enrichment as a tool to promote welfare in farmed fish, with a poster entitled “Structural enrichment in tanks enhances spatial cognition of juvenile Gilthead seabream”. At the “precision aquaculture” session, we showed how acoustic telemetry techniques are very useful tools to monitor in detail the swimming behaviour and spatial use of fishes in the rearing environment at both individual and group levels. In this case, it must be mentioned that the poster entitled “Using acoustic telemetry to monitor swimming behaviour of Gilthead seabream in sea cages” was awarded as the Best e-Poster of the conference!

In addition to personal achievements, it is always a pleasure to meet with other experts in the field, as well as to learn and discuss the scientific and technical advances in European aquaculture.

Pablo Arechavala-Lopez

Fish Welfare Course: a wrap-up

The 2nd edition of the Fish Welfare Course took place on February 1st to 4th and was organised by FishEthoGroup and CCMAR. This online edition allowed the attendance of over 80 participants from 28 different countries, covering all continents. Additionally, five participants received a Fair-Fish Fellowship that covered their registration fees. The high daily participation, despite the differences in time zones among the attendees, ensured interesting discussions between participants and speakers after each talk.

The speakers covered sentience, pain, mental welfare, stress, physiology, applied biology and welfare, operational welfare tools and indicators, and welfare certifications and policy. To conclude, we had a stimulating round-table with an engaging participation from the attending students, professionals, and experts.

Overall, the course was a great success, allowing the attendees to learn from and interact with renowned international experts. We aim to repeat this thrilling experience in future editions!

Maria Cabrera-Alvarez

Our team is growing!

The FishEthoGroup welcomes 4 new collaborators, from left: Caroline Marques Maia, Ana Rita Oliveira, Adrián V. Montalt, and Cynthia Kazi

Caroline Marques Maia:
Born in 1987, Caroline is a biologist specialised in animal behavior and welfare. She did a MSc and a PhD in Zoology at Unesp University (Brazil) and Pennsylvania State University (USA). She is now graduating also as a scientific journalist and mantains a blog about animal behaviour and welfare. Living in Brazil, she works as an independent researcher and is interested in fish preference and motivation to access environmental resources and how to use this to improve their welfare under restricted conditions.
Caroline is part of the team behind FishEthoBase since November 2020, being responsible for creating and updating fish profiles.

Ana Rita Oliveira
Ana Rita is a marine biologist with a speciality in Food Technology and Aquaculture. She did a MSc in Food Consumption Sciences by Aberta University (Porto, Portugal). Ana Rita worked at CCMAR (Faro, Portugal) on two Investigation Projects focusing on the nutrition, reproduction and genetics of cuttlefish.
She has recently become part of the FishEthoGroup team as a PhD student, working on the positive impact of environmental enrichments on aquaculture fishes’ life quality.

Adrián V. Montalt
Adrián is a biologist interested in marine resources, having completed a MSc in Aquaculture at University of Valencia (Spain). In the Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, he studied the life strategy of several fish parasites as well as the physiological impact in their host.
Adrián is passionate about conservation, pathology, and animal welfare. He joined FishEthoGroup in January 2021, collaborating as a postgraduate researcher in the study of the nexus between environmental enrichment and aquaculture fish behaviour.

Cynthia Kazi
Born and raised in Ivory Coast, Cynthia lived in Chemnitz (Germany) where she has dedicated herself to social and cultural projects while studying English, Sociology, and Psychology.
After moving to Portugal in 2011, she has worked as an administrative assistant in the legal field, while continuing to volunteer for non-profit organizations internationally. Living in different countries raised her awareness of environmental issues, for which she has developed a deep interest.
Cynthia joined FishEthoGroup as an administrative officer in February 2021.

Joao Saraiva

Is feeding fishes with insects the better way?

Insect-based (fish) feed sounds similar to the weird dream of “ecologically" replacing fuel by woodchips for heating or soy and corn in car traffic—what about the trees and the forests? One could maybe discuss sincerely about replacing meat and fish dishes by insects directly, but still, it's industrially farming and killing animals, and even in billions and billions of individuals (far more individuals than the 500 millions of wild fishes caught per year and reduced to fish meal and oil to feed farmed fishes)—while there is growing evidence of personality in invertebrates, calling for attention for their welfare.

Heavy food for thought, presented and well documented by Lewis Bollard, Farm Animal Welfare Program Officer at Open Philanthropy.

Billo Heinzpeter Studer
Photo: Larvae of the black soldier fly (Dennis Kress / Wikimedia)

So far the news from fair-fish international and the FishEthoGroup for today. Should you have any idea, question or remark, please do not hesitate to contact us. Next time we will certainly tell you about a new research and consulting project on the reduction of animal suffering in fisheries which we are peparing as a consortium together with other institutions. The approach is similar to what we have succeded for fish welfare in aquaculture. Let you be surprised!

Enjoy summertime, hopefully with decreasing case numbers and less stringent restrictions.
Best wishes,
The team of fair-fish international and the FishEthoGroup