Although sustainable fisheries management has made significant progress in recent decades through several United Nations initiatives, overexploitation of marine resources remains endemic, while animal welfare issues in commercial fishing are widespread and significant. .
Indeed, wild fish remains the last major agri-food sector not to take animal welfare into account. For primarily economic reasons, current fishing practices focus on maximizing the efficiency (“catch per unit effort”; CPUE) of commercial fishing operations and minimizing the time spent at sea required to fill the quota. catch from the fishing vessel.
This report introduces the concept of a welfare-based approach (WBA) to capture fisheries and urges its adoption. The recommended approach to fisheries management centers on the following principles:
- Refine the methods used to capture and recover aquatic animals;
- Improve the way captured animals are handled on board;
- Implement effective stunning and slaughter of captured animals; and,
- Eliminate indirect negative impacts on the welfare of non-target species.
The report also calls for more research and financial support from all relevant stakeholders to develop ‘welfare-conscious’ fishing gear, soak times and recovery rates, intensify stunning and humane killing on board and limiting the capture of non-target species.
Achieving truly sustainable fisheries cannot be achieved without considering the main stakeholders involved: the aquatic animals themselves. Adopting an animal WBA can help reduce unnecessary stress, injury and mortality to aquatic animals during the catching process, minimize mortality inflicted on non-target species and improve catch quality, while controlling against destructive fishing practices, all of which support the long-term viability of the fishing industry and the health of the ocean ecosystem.
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