Setting and raising animal welfare standards in the aquaculture industry – that is the mission of the Aquaculture Welfare Standards Initiative (AWSI) founded by us. As recently as last December, we reported on our progress and presented the position paper published by the 34 members from business, science, public authorities and certification bodies. Now, the AWSI has successfully started to also raise welfare standards for fishes and other aquatic animals on an international level.
VR software for greater animal welfare
To improve animal welfare in the aquaculture industry despite global pandemic-induced restrictions, the AWSI has developed a special VR training software called »ITA facing fish welfare«. Using this software, employees can work their way through different training modules – e.g. on the correct stunning of fishes – in a virtual environment. This provides them with an effective means of learning and practising methods aimed at reducing the stress and suffering experienced by fishes and other aquatic animals. The first training modules are already complete and have been tested by, among others, scientists from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, who were very impressed with the technology. The VR training units are designed for distance learning purposes, eliminating the need for international travel, thereby minimizing carbon emissions. In September 2022, »ITA facing fish welfare« will be presented to experts from all over the world at a specialist trade fair.
Working together with Ukraine
Even in times of war, promoting the welfare of fishes remains as relevant as ever. The AWSI has made a strong statement by admitting the Ukrainian Aquaculture Association as a member. Furthermore, fish expert Yuliia Buhlak and her team are helping the AWSI to enhance and refine the animal welfare training modules. Buhlak is a researcher with Aquaculture Ukraine LLC, a Ukrainian consulting company for the aquaculture industry. She lives with her family in besieged Kyiv. She said that the AWSI’s efforts to raise animal welfare standards are helping her to look towards a future beyond war – even as she seeks refuge in a bomb shelter: »Cooperation for a better world gives our life a purpose«, says Buhlak.
Recommendations for consumers
Our mission is to reduce the suffering of aquatic animals step by step. That said, if this suffering is to end once and for all, it is vital that people never stop questioning and challenging the consumption of fishes and other animals on the whole. Since it is currently impossible to predict if and when humans will stop consuming animals, we can at least see to it that their suffering is reduced.