By tradition fish has been counted in kilos, parallel to broilers, none of them treated or traded as individuals, and seldom considered as objects of moral concern in animal ethics. Compared to debates about intensified production of other species welfare is an almost non-debated issue in fish farming. There is however accumulating evidence, based primarily on behavioural responses, that fish (teleostei) have the capacity to feel pain. This calls for a change of both practice and of scope of ethical concern, for the benefit of both human and fish welfare. Acceptance of this new knowledge and adaptation of new farming practices is however a slow process, and fish welfare might even be ‘purposely ignored’ out of pragmatic reasons — to meet global food supply in an economic feasible manner. Aquaculture is sometimes regarded as one of the most promising solutions to food insecurity, partly thanks to being less detrimental to the climate than other forms of animal production. However this is not uncontroversial: a vegetarian diet is preferable in terms of climate effects and there are reports on health risks associated with consumption of fish, as well as environmental concerns for both aquaculture and wild catch. Further, an increase of fish farming probably includes not only a higher number of facilities but also an intensification of farming practice which in turn has consequences for fish welfare. This paper takes three not too risky statements as its point of departure for an elaboration of the ethical aspects of production of fish for food: (a) global fish consumption is increasing, (b) global population increase is a challenge to food security and global climate and (c) concern for fish welfare is very low. An ethically informed reformulation of aquaculture and fish capture in the light of food supply concerns has thus to consider not only fish welfare or global food security but also e.g. health aspects in fish consumption and climate challenges of the fish-for-feed production system.

Full Text
Published version (Free)

Talk to us

Join us for a 30 min session where you can share your feedback and ask us any queries you have

Schedule a call