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Parliamentary questions
3 April 2009
E-1140/2009
Answer given by Ms Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission

The Commission acknowledges that there is now sufficient scientific evidence indicating that fish are sentient beings and that they are subject to pain and suffering notably when they are killed.

It should be noted that the main goal of the common fisheries policy (CFP) is to ensure sustainable exploitation of living aquatic resources. Without mentioning the relevance of the socioeconomic aspects, this implies taking into account environmental considerations such as the protection of biodiversity. Although the protection of fish welfare is an important element in certain Community policies, however, it is not always possible to fully integrate all these relevant aspects in fisheries management; for instance, certain fishing techniques which are particularly selective and environmentally friendly may be less favourable to fish welfare than other, less sustainable fishing practices.

On the other hand, the Commission is aware that there are welfare concerns for some of the current commercial methods used to stun and kill farmed fish. In 2004, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adopted an opinion(1) on the welfare aspects of the main systems of stunning and killing of the main commercial species of animals and it appeared that some of the current commercial methods used to stun and kill farmed fish raise welfare issues.

Notwithstanding the fact that fish should be spared any avoidable pain or suffering during fishing, we believe that nowadays efforts should concentrate on the main problems of the CFP such as the over exploitation of resources and the integration of environmental aspects. Nevertheless, under fish farming conditions welfare considerations can be better addressed at the time of killing fish.

Scientific knowledge on fish welfare is improving. To support this process, the Commission is, therefore, promoting research on fish welfare in order to have a solid basis to develop policies in this area in the future.

The EFSA opinion on the welfare aspects of the main systems of stunning and killing of the main commercial species of animals adopted in 2004 highlighted the importance of assessing these methods, taking into account the particularities of each different species of fish. Therefore, the Commission mandated EFSA to provide species specific scientific opinions on the stunning/killing methods used for seven species of fish (salmon, trout, carp, sea bass and sea bream, tuna, eel and turbot) commonly farmed in the EU. These opinions will be adopted in 2009.

On the basis of this new scientific evidence, the Commission intends to carry out an assessment on the need to develop EU legislation for improving the welfare of farmed fish during killing based on the economic, social and environmental impacts of different policy options.

(1)Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare on a request from the Commission related to welfare aspects of the main systems of stunning and killing the main commercial species of animals. (Question N° EFSA-Q-2003-093).

OJ C 189, 13/07/2010
Última actualização: 14 de Abril de 2009Advertência jurídica