Compassion in World Farming Launches Salmon Scorecard to Measure Welfare in Aquaculture

Compassion in World Farming has launched a new Salmon Welfare Scorecard, reporting the performance of eight major salmon producers against 13 key welfare parameters.

Fish are sentient animals capable of feeling pain, stress and fear, as well as experiencing positive emotions, social bonds, and advanced intelligence. They are sensitive creatures and like many other animals, they explore, socialise, hunt and play. Yet many fish are intensively reared on farms where they are forced to live in conditions that fail to meet their basic welfare needs.

In recent years, there has been an increase in public awareness about animal welfare, sustainability, and healthy food, with many people turning to eating more fish as they decrease their red meat consumption. As the demand for seafood has soared, aquaculture has become the world’s fastest-growing food sector producing $265 billion worth of goods in 2020.  Today over half the seafood we consume is farmed.

More than 400 million salmon are raised globally each year, with longstanding criticism having been levelled at the industry for failing to find solid welfare-oriented solutions for addressing stocking densities, mortality rates from sea lice infestations, and the lack of mental stimuli for salmon reared in barren environments.

This new Salmon Welfare Scorecard aims to provide meaningful engagement with the salmon industry, fostering transparency across the supply chain.  It will enable producers to report authoritatively on salmon welfare and provide a basis for rewarding better policy and practice; all with the aim of improving the welfare of farmed salmon.

The Scorecard has evaluated the public policies of eight salmon producers[2] in their transparent reporting of key welfare issues, which together represent more than 50% of worldwide salmon production.  These are based on assessments made from publicly available company information, rated across 13 welfare parameters including stocking density, humane slaughter, sea lice infestations and mortality. Each parameter is marked independently with the resultant comparison table being based on a 5-colour scale, from red to green.  (for a full explanation of the scorecard see report: )

All the producers included were consulted about the Scorecard’s original findings in March 2023 and had the opportunity to improve their scores by updating any publicly available information prior to publication, as well as being offered private, dedicated meetings with Compassion’s Food Business team to discuss how to make welfare improvements.

Certain companies stood out in the Scorecard’s ratings for specific parameters.  Bakkafrost was the only producer that has performed well for predator management, while MOWI and CERMAQ did so for the Key Welfare Indicator section and for their policies on Humane Slaughter.  In 2022, MOWI received a Special Recognition Award from Compassion in recognition of their global policy of using a stun-kill percussive system for 100% of their salmon, across all countries, to ensure they are humanely killed.   This policy is in line with Compassion’s recommendation and therefore earned MOWI the maximum score (dark green code) on the Scorecard.

While there are some examples of good practice, and engagement has driven positive change in the communication of producers such as MOWI, CERMAQ and Aquachile, the Scorecard demonstrates that there is still a long way to go.  Policy reporting around transfer and transport, stocking density and enclosure (i.e., rearing system and environmental enrichment) all remain very much in the red/orange colour scale across the board. Messaging around humane slaughter is massively understated and an area where communication could be improved. Policies around sea lice are also an area of ongoing concern and that require improvement and further engagement.

Compassion in World Farming’s Global CEO, Philip Lymbery, said: “The Salmon Welfare Scorecard is a valuable tool for encouraging greater awareness, transparency and investment in higher salmon welfare. I look forward to seeing increasing progress on fish welfare as a result of engagement with this Scorecard initiative, an approach that we intend to also apply to the farming of other fish species.”

The Scorecard will be updated again next year to allow for deeper engagement over the coming months with producers and Compassion is planning to publish the next iteration in November 2024 which will include more producers. After this second edition the Salmon Welfare Scorecard will be published every two years. To see this year’s report click here:

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