Wild Fish - Capture, Loading, Storage and Slaughter

J.W. van de Vis, H.G.M. Reimert, M.A. Gerritzen, Martien Bokma-Bakker, M. Boonstra

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


At present the focus in fisheries is on ecological sustainability. Attention for welfare of fish in fisheries is a challenge with regard to for instance the diversity fish species captured and technologies used by fishermen.

To capture fish, various types of fishing gears are used, e.g. trawls, purse seines and traps. Each of these gear types is used in a specific way related to the targeted fish species and their habitats. The impact on fish welfare differs e.g. per gear type, targeted fish species and the season(s) during which fishing takes place. A change of season may also influence the impact on welfare, as its change can have a profound effect on the physiological status of fish.

Subsequently, the fish are retrieved from the fishing gear. In case of for instance capture of bottom-dwelling fish species, the speed of the ascent and the fishing depth both have an impact on the welfare of fish caught. The speed of ascent usually exceeds the capacity of the fish to adapt to this change. Consequently, the rapid reduction in hydrostatic pressure can cause injury and stress in fish and other species caught. In case a trawl net is used, the loading process, which brings the catch on board of a vessel, comprises either pumping fish from the codend or using a codend lift. During loading stress and injury in fish are likely to occur.

Prior to slaughter the catch is stored temporarily in a container with little water or with water without aeration. An exception is capture-based aquaculture of cod. Here, the fish are stored in well-aerated water to keep them alive on board for feeding and live storage in sea cages. Storage in well-aerated water on board prevents hypoxia in fish.

Methods currently used on board of fishing vessels for slaughtering do not render fish unconscious without avoidable or minimal stress prior to killing them. These methods have a severe impact on the welfare of these animals.

Due to the nature of the processes and methods used by fishermen, in fisheries the focus can only be on protection of fish. i.e. to reduce or minimize stress and injury and the number of individuals affected. Clearly, it is a challenge to achieve this aim. This aim can only be achieved in steps in which fishermen, researchers and other stakeholders collaborate in an constructive manner.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2020
EventAquatic Animal Welfare Conference 2020 - Online, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Nov 20206 Nov 2020


ConferenceAquatic Animal Welfare Conference 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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