Electrical stunning of captured fish

J.W. van de Vis, H. Digre, I. Grong Aursand, L. Grimsmo, D. Burggraaf, W. Abbink, B. van Marlen, I. Velzeboer, E. Lambooij

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Electrical stunning to protect welfare of food animals at slaughter is established for a range of farm animals. For fish, it is reported that when sufficient current is passed through the head, a general epileptiform insult will occur, which is recorded on an EEG. The epileptiform insult is indicative for loss of consciousness. Fish species’ specific specifications to achieve an instantaneous stun without recovery, should be based on EEG recordings. It is known that electrical stunning of fish may lead to carcase damage. For Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) it is reported that so called ‘dry stunning’ results in a very low incidence of damages. With ‘dry stunning’, a current is administered to a fish, after de-watering, via rows of positive plate electrodes and a conveyor belt as negative electrode. Preliminary experiments performed by SINTEF with captured fish indicate that electrical stunning could allow for more rapid gutting and rinsing of fish onboard. Stunning of captured fish prior to killing could, therefore, increase the fish quality and at the same time protect welfare of fish at slaughter. The issue of electrical stunning of captured cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) onboard is one of the sub-objectives of a Norwegian project, led by SINTEF. This project started in 2010 and focuses on development and assessment of novel technologies onboard. In this project we assessed ‘dry stunning’ of captured cod and haddock onboard the Jan Mayen. For the ‘dry stunning’, experimental equipment developed by the Norwegian manufacturer SeaSide was used. EEG recordings revealed that when on average 52 Vrms (100 Hz alternating current component, coupled with a direct current component) was applied across the electrodes for 1 s, sufficient current was passed through cod and haddock to provoke immediate loss of consciousness. In 2009 a group of fishermen in The Netherlands decided to initiate a project on stunning of captured sole (Solea solea), turbot (Psetta maxima), plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), dab (Limanda limanda) and cod onboard. It is the view of these fishermen that sustainability of fisheries should also include welfare of captured fish. The Dutch project, which started in 2010, is managed by the company Scienta Nova. The first step is to establish conditions for ‘dry stunning’ to achieve instantaneous loss of consciousness in plaice and dab.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHSA Centenary International Symposium : Recent Advances in the Welfare of Livestock at Slaughter, Herts, UK, 30 June - 1 July, 2011
EditorsJ.K. Kirkwood, C. Mason, J. Spence, H. Barker, S. Weddell
Place of PublicationHerts UK
PublisherUniversities Federation for Animal Welfare
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventHSA Centenary International Symposium -
Duration: 30 Jun 20111 Jul 2011


ConferenceHSA Centenary International Symposium


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