Welfare of fish—no longer the elephant in the room

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FarmAnimals

Welfare of fish—no longer the elephant in the room

27 July 2019
News
The concept of fish welfare is fairly recent and was overlooked for many years, based on a popular misconception that fish were “stupid” creatures devoid of any kind of sentience or mental capability.

However, a growing body of research on fish behaviour, cognition, learning and neuroscience made clear that this is evidently not the case—fish are indeed socially complex [1], have developed cognitive and learning abilities with the neural substrate to support them [2,3] and are sentient [4].

As the evidence for fish mental competences grew larger, the uncomfortable questions regarding the welfare state of fish and the ethical implications of fish farming became an elephant in the room that nobody would address. However, there are recent indications that things are changing, and the present collection of excellent contributions suggests that all the interested parties (scientists, farmers, retailers, NGOs and consumers) are now directly approaching the subject. Ladies and gentlemen, the elephant has left the building.