- Compassion in World Farming has been campaigning to improve welfare standards in fish certification schemes since 2020.
- In February and March, the animal welfare and environmental charity sent letters to the international seafood certification scheme Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)’s CEO and executive team asking for a meeting to discuss much-needed welfare improvements for fish. No response was received.
- In April, Compassion in World Farming called out the certification scheme for failing to improve fish welfare standards and urged them to adopt a number of specific fish welfare improvements. It also urged its supporters to target BAP through social media.
- This week, the Global Seafood Alliance published an open letter from BAP to Compassion in World Farming accusing the charity of running a “campaign intended to discredit the Global Seafood Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)”.
Dr. Elena Lara, Research Manager in Compassion in World Farming’s Fish Policy Team, said:
“Our aim is not to discredit BAP, but to improve the welfare of the billions of fish that are farmed every year around the world. To that end, in 2020, we asked all fish certification schemes, including BAP, to complete a questionnaire about welfare standards. Unfortunately, this revealed that fish welfare across certification schemes was very low indeed. In response, we campaigned strongly urging all the main certification schemes to improve the health and welfare of fish they certify.
“Three years on, some of these schemes have made progress. Sadly, BAP was not one of them and is, in fact, the scheme that has done the least to improve farmed fish welfare during this time. We, therefore, wrote to BAP on 28th February urging them to engage with us to improve their welfare standards. Yet despite repeated approaches, we received no response, so we decided to enlist the support of the public to highlight their lack of action and to press for meaningful improvements.
“What is particularly revealing is that the points BAP provide in response to our concerns (2 May) are exactly the same points they provided in answer to our 2019 questionnaire which can be seen here: clearly demonstrating that no progress has been made since that time.
“The March 2021 clauses on animal health and welfare they describe in this open letter are also weak - they either cannot be measured, provide no benchmark standard for good welfare, are vague or do not focus on providing a good environment with trained personnel to safeguard high welfare. They, therefore, do little to safeguard fish welfare. For example, regarding mortalities and injuries, BAP simply asks that these are ‘measured’ but gives no guideline as to what level of injury is acceptable, nor does it require that veterinary or welfare specialist assistance should be sought in these circumstances. And on slaughter, BAP does not specify humane slaughter methods and still allows the use of cruel ice-slurry despite the World Animal Health Organisation’s view that it causes poor welfare, pain and suffering.
“Until BAP makes meaningful, measurable progress that properly raises the standard of welfare across its scheme, we make no apology for highlighting their lack of action and for inviting the public to support us in pressing for change. We are keen to discuss these urgent matters with BAP and hope we can work together to improve the lives of the hundreds of millions of fish it certifies. However, until we can see meaningful progress, our campaign will continue.”
To book an interview or for further information contact Compassion in World Farming’s Media Team: firstname.lastname@example.org.