The world’s leading aquaculture businesses have been urged to take more steps to improve salmon welfare by Compassion in World Farming.
The call came this week after the animal welfare campaign group unveiled its new Salmon Welfare Scorecard, which revealed there was a long way to go in tackling concerns around the transfer and transport of fish, stocking density and enclosure policies.
However, it did highlight that some businesses were performing well on predator management, key welfare indicators and human slaughter policies.
The charity’s scorecard reported the performance of eight major salmon producers including Mowi and Bakkafrost, against 13 key welfare criteria.
More than 400 million salmon are raised globally each year, and the charity has long criticised the industry for failing to find solid welfare-orientated solutions for addressing challenges.
The new scorecard is designed to provide meaningful engagement with the salmon industry, fostering transparency across the supply chain, and ultimately aims to improve the welfare of farmed salmon.
The eight producers measured account for more than 50% of worldwide salmon production and they are evaluated on welfare parameters including stocking density, humane slaughter, sea lice infestations and mortality.
Each parameter is marked independently, with the resultant comparison table being based on a five-colour scale from red to green.
Bakkafrost was the only producer that performed well for predator management, while Mowi and Cermaq did so for the key welfare indicator section and for their policies on humane slaughter.
The scorecard also highlighted concerns about messaging around humane slaughter and policies on sea lice.
“The Salmon Welfare Scorecard is a valuable tool for encouraging greater awareness, transparency and investment in higher salmon welfare,” said CIWF global CEO Philip Lymbery.
“I look forward to seeing increasing progress on fish welfare as a result of engagement with this scorecard initiative, an approach that we intend to also apply to the farming of other fish species.”
All the producers included were consulted about the scorecard’s original findings in March 2023, and had the opportunity to improve their scores by updating any publicly available information prior to publication, as well as being offered meetings with CIWF to discuss how to make welfare improvements.
The scorecard will be published again in November 2024 and will engage with producers over the coming months.
After the second edition, the Salmon Welfare Scorecard will be published every two years.