SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Fish (Farmed)

SPCA supports farming systems that meet the physical, health, and behavioural needs of farmed fish.

Free-range ocean-ranching of fish is preferred to sea-pen systems. If fish are reared in pens or cages, stocking densities must be low enough to enable the fish to perform natural behaviours and to avoid health and disease issues, and water quality problems. Fish farmed in land aquaculture pens must be provided with opportunities to seek shelter in their tanks, thermoregulate as needed, and experience different water features such as currents that promote natural behaviours.

SPCA opposes rearing systems of farmed fish with high stocking densities.

Fish that are farmed in highly stocked systems are at higher risk of welfare harms including aggression and injury from other fish, increased risk of disease transmission, and are not able to fully perform their repertoire of natural behaviours. Highly stocked systems are also make it difficult to monitor individual fish.

SPCA advocates that fish only be killed after they have been humanely stunned.

Humane methods of killing of fish include keeping them in water until the moment they are stunned. Percussive stunning and electrical stunning methods can improve the humaneness of killing methods due to the rapid loss of consciousness, when they are applied correctly. Humanely stunning large numbers of fish can be achieved with automatic percussive stunning devices to ensure more consistent and effective stunning and avoid the need for the operator to handle the fish. To reduce stress, the addition of anaesthesia agents may be used to sedate fish prior to killing.

SPCA opposes stunning or killing methods for fish that are inhumane.

Practices such as suffocation, bleeding without stunning, death through asphyxiation, and stunning using carbon dioxide gas. SPCA opposes the processing (e.g. gutting, filleting or freezing) of live fish. Our organisation is also opposed to the sale of live fish for food at markets. Our organisation supports research to improve the humaneness of methods used in the capture and killing of farmed fish.

SPCA opposes the killing of wild predators, such as seals or seabirds, to protect fish farms. SPCA opposes the practice of feeding farmed fish with specially caught wild fish.

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