A group of researchers from the Algarve Sea Science Center published a study that serves as a step-by-step guide to the successful implementation of policies to improve the welfare of fish in aquaculture.

The book “Environmental enrichment in fish farming: a review of fundamental and practical aspects” is a critical review of “all the scientific literature published to date” on environmental enrichment in fish, said one of the four authors of the study published in Lusa in Reviews en Aqualcuture, with Pablo Arechavala-Lopez, Maria Cabrera-Álvarez and Caroline Maia.

“The guide is a call for attention not only for the industry, but also for policy makers as it provides tools for policy makers and those who wish to implement policies to improve the welfare of fish in aquaculture and fish farming. laboratory, ”he added.

According to the founder of a research group on ethology and animal welfare, if a company or laboratory wants to get into environmental enrichment, he can follow the guide “step by step” because it also indicates how these measures “can be validated”.

The biologist revealed that the review contains “a lot of data” on the enrichment in sea bream, salmon and trout, among others, but serves as a “decision support guide”, in particular on “how these measures can be implemented. artwork”.

Environmental enrichment involves increasing the complexity of the culture medium to improve the welfare of captive animals. With these strategies, tanks and cages are able to mimic the environment that fish find in their natural habitat – and the gains in production can be surprising.

On the other hand, environmental poverty not only decreases animal welfare, it can also be responsible for huge “production losses” in an industry that has grown globally in recent years, he said.

João Saraiva said that fish that live in “more suitable environments have less disease and are better resistant to disease” and pointed to a recent study that shows how the use of antibiotics and chemical treatments can be “reduced” by “simply improving” their environment by enriching the environment.

At present, there are companies that are already betting on enrichment, and there are certifications in the phase of implementing environmental well-being measures, which already require environmental enrichment, declaring João Saraiva that they are a means of “improving” the product, its “quality” and “increasing the profits of the company”, he concluded.

Recent studies show that fish are sensitive animals endowed with sensitivity, that is, they are able to sense emotional states in response to their environment. However, the tanks and cages used to raise fish are not designed to meet their needs. basic in terms of well-being, often being completely devoid of elements present in natural habitats.

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