Wheathampstead charity awarded £1.93 million to improve welfare of sea life at slaughter

PUBLISHED: 06:58 08 March 2020

The charity has given out funding to try and find more humane ways of slaughtering fish and other sea creatures. Picture: Mali Maeder/Pexels

The charity has given out funding to try and find more humane ways of slaughtering fish and other sea creatures. Picture: Mali Maeder/Pexels


A Wheathampstead-based charity has awarded £1.93 million for research and development to improve the welfare of fish, crustaceans and cephalopods at slaughter.

The Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) has just announced its largest ever programme of research in an attempt to find more humane ways of slaughtering these animals in future.

The funding has been awarded to three separate consortiums which will each be focusing on a specific area - humane stunning of selected farmed finfish (led by Ace Aquatec Ltd), stunning and killing commercial species of crabs and lobsters (led by Nofima AS) and humane slaughter of cephalopods (led by the Association for Cephalopod Research, CephRes).

The three projects will develop, test and validate methods which could be used to humanely stun their target species on an industrial scale.

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They will also assess the commercial viability of the proposed methods and their effects on the quality of the flesh of the slaughtered species, with the aim of developing methods that could be commercially adopted.

The award comes as concern for the welfare of these animals has grown. Worldwide, thousands of millions of farmed fish, farmed or wild-caught crustaceans and cephalopods (eg octopus, cuttlefish and squid), are slaughtered for food every year, many of them by methods that may not be humane.

Many species of farmed fish are typically killed by being taken out of water and left to asphyxiate in air, or fish might be chilled on ice slurry or gutted while conscious. Many crustaceans and cephalopods are slaughtered for food without stunning.

The substantial funding represents significant steps forward in advancing understanding of these species and improvements to their welfare at slaughter.

The HSA's CEO & scientific director Dr Huw Golledge said: "In order to meaningfully protect the welfare of these animals we need more than just legislation, we need to know how to treat them to ensure that they do not suffer. The research that the HSA is supporting is designed to produce exactly this kind of crucial, practical knowledge which should allow these animals to be slaughtered humanely in future.

"I am delighted that we have enabled our colleagues in the aquaculture industry and the animal welfare research community to come together to undertake this work."

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