SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Farmed Fish

Farmed Animals

SPCA advocates that farming systems meet the species-specific and life-stage specific physical, health, and behavioural needs of farmed fish.

Fish are legally recognised as sentient, therefore capable of feeling pain, stress and positive emotional states. SPCA advocates for continued improvements in promoting positive welfare of farmed fish. SPCA advocates for the implementation of a veterinary health plan, involving the continual monitoring and record keeping of fish health and welfare.

Continual monitoring and record keeping of key water quality parameters, including suspended solids, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia, nitrite and nitrate is paramount to fish health and welfare. Optimal ranges of water quality parameters for each species and life-stage should be determined by scientific recommendations.

SPCA advocates for fish to be reared in appropriate densities for the farming system, species and life-stage.

Minimum and maximum stocking densities should be set at a level which allows for maintenance of good water quality, enables expression of the species full behavioural repertoire, facilitates positive social environments and accounts for spatial variations in preferred water quality parameters.

SPCA supports housing fish in enriched environments.

Environmental enrichment (e.g., structural, sensory, social, dietary and occupational enrichment) provides opportunities for fish to actively engage with their environment, increases environmental complexity, cognitive stimulation and facilitates behavioural diversity.

Environmental enrichment must be appropriate for the species and life-stage and suitability determined by scientific research. Any enrichment implemented should be closely monitored for level of engagement by the fish and effect on fish welfare.

SPCA advocates for the minimum transport and handling of fish.

Where handling of fish is necessary, it should be carried out for the shortest time possible and with minimum stress and disturbance to the fish. Our organisation supports ‘hands off’ farming systems, which minimise the handling of fish (e.g. passive size grading) and promotes the training of staff in humane handling of fish and its impact on fish welfare. Where possible, slaughter of fish on-site is preferred to reduce transportation and handling.

SPCA advocates for the humane stunning and slaughter of fish.

(See Stunning and Slaughter of Farmed Fish for more information)

SPCA opposes the practice of feeding farmed fish with specially caught wild fish.

(See Using Wild Caught Fish in Animal Feeds for more information)

SPCA opposes the killing of wild predators, such as seals or seabirds, to protect fish farms.

(See Killing of Wild Animals to Protect Fish Farms for more information)

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