RSPCA standard revamp: CCTV surveillance now mandatory for salmon slaughter

Editorial Staff

The new revision of the RSPCA farmed Atlantic salmon welfare standards will come into effect in May 2024, introducing over 300 standards and amendments.

Leading UK animal welfare body RSPCA Assured, has introduced comprehensive revisions to its welfare standards for farmed Atlantic salmon.

Set to be implemented in May 2024, the overhaul includes more than 300 standards and amendments, marking a significant advancement in fish welfare practices.

The revised standards are noteworthy for their approach to non-medicinal treatments for prevalent issues such as sea lice and gill disease. A major inclusion in the new regulations is the mandatory implementation of regular welfare outcomes assessments, ensuring continuous monitoring and improvement of fish welfare.

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In a bid to enhance transparency and ensure humane practices, the RSPCA Assured scheme has mandated CCTV coverage for the entire stunning and slaughter process of salmon. This move aligns with growing concerns about animal welfare in aquaculture and aims to set a new benchmark for industry practices.

Another significant change is the requirement for daily checks on the health of fish in all tanks and enclosures. Any signs of sickness or distress must be promptly addressed, reflecting a proactive approach to fish welfare. The introduction of formal written production plans aims to minimize unnecessary culling, showcasing a commitment to responsible fish farming practices.

Sean Black, Senior Scientific Officer and Aquaculture Specialist at the RSPCA, highlighted the groundbreaking nature of these new standards. “The introduction of over 80 new standards specifically aimed at improving cleanerfish welfare is a testament to our commitment to all species under our care,” said Black. These standards encompass a thorough assessment of treatment impacts on cleanerfish welfare, meticulous recording and monitoring of mortality causes, and the reduction of transport stocking density.

Additionally, the updated standards address the use of antibiotics in fish farming. Their application must now undergo an annual review or be evaluated at the end of each production cycle, ensuring judicious and responsible use.

While acknowledging the challenges that these new standards may pose to the industry, Black assures ongoing support and guidance from the RSPCA to its members. “These standards are not just about compliance; they are about elevating the entire industry towards a more ethical and sustainable future,” he said.

The necessity for more stringent regulations on humane fish slaughter has been a topic of recent debate. Last month, a parliamentary meeting saw consensus among campaigners and the farmed fish sector on tightening legislation in this area. Lord Alexander Trees, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, pointed out the legislative gap in current protections for farmed fish at the time of  harvest, compared to land-farmed animals.


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