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Expanding the moral circle: farmed fish as objects of moral concern

Lund, Vonne; Mejdell, Cecilie M.; Röcklinsberg, Helena LU ; Anthony, Ray and Hastein, Tore (2007) In Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 75(2). p.109-118
Abstract
Until recently fish welfare attracted little attention, but international and national legislation and standards of fish welfare are now emerging and an overview of these developments is presented in this study. Whereas animal welfare legislation is based on public morality, animal ethics does not automatically accept public morality as normative and elaborates arguments regarding the way humans should treat animals (referred to as moral standards). In this study we present the most common animal ethics theories. For most of these, sentience is considered a demarcation line for moral concern: if an animal is sentient, then it should be included in the moral circle, i.e. receive moral consideration in its own right and some basic welfare... (More)
Until recently fish welfare attracted little attention, but international and national legislation and standards of fish welfare are now emerging and an overview of these developments is presented in this study. Whereas animal welfare legislation is based on public morality, animal ethics does not automatically accept public morality as normative and elaborates arguments regarding the way humans should treat animals (referred to as moral standards). In this study we present the most common animal ethics theories. For most of these, sentience is considered a demarcation line for moral concern: if an animal is sentient, then it should be included in the moral circle, i.e. receive moral consideration in its own right and some basic welfare should be ensured. As for fish, research has revealed that the sensory system of teleosts can detect noxious stimuli, and that some kind of phenomenal consciousness, allowing the fish to feel pain, seems to be present. This raises the ethical question as to how much evidence we need in order to act on such indications of fish sentience. A simple risk analysis shows that the probability that fishes can feel pain is not negligible and that if they do indeed experience pain the consequences in terms of the number of suffering individuals are great. We conclude that farmed fish should be given the benefit of the doubt and we should make efforts that their welfare needs are met as well as possible. Finally, the way forward is briefly discussed: efforts must be made to understand what fish welfare means in practical fish farming. This will involve the development of research and education, greater accountability and transparency, compliance with and control of policies, and quality assurance schemes. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
circle, fish welfare legislation, moral, animal ethics, fish sentience, fish welfare, animal welfare, aquaculture
in
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
volume
75
issue
2
pages
109 - 118
publisher
Inter-Research
external identifiers
  • wos:000247899700004
  • scopus:34250359491
ISSN
0177-5103
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
4a19570d-dbf3-4974-9451-c71b783f7487 (old id 645833)
alternative location
http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao_oa/d075p109.pdf
date added to LUP
2007-12-13 14:25:56
date last changed
2017-08-27 03:59:48
@article{4a19570d-dbf3-4974-9451-c71b783f7487,
  abstract     = {Until recently fish welfare attracted little attention, but international and national legislation and standards of fish welfare are now emerging and an overview of these developments is presented in this study. Whereas animal welfare legislation is based on public morality, animal ethics does not automatically accept public morality as normative and elaborates arguments regarding the way humans should treat animals (referred to as moral standards). In this study we present the most common animal ethics theories. For most of these, sentience is considered a demarcation line for moral concern: if an animal is sentient, then it should be included in the moral circle, i.e. receive moral consideration in its own right and some basic welfare should be ensured. As for fish, research has revealed that the sensory system of teleosts can detect noxious stimuli, and that some kind of phenomenal consciousness, allowing the fish to feel pain, seems to be present. This raises the ethical question as to how much evidence we need in order to act on such indications of fish sentience. A simple risk analysis shows that the probability that fishes can feel pain is not negligible and that if they do indeed experience pain the consequences in terms of the number of suffering individuals are great. We conclude that farmed fish should be given the benefit of the doubt and we should make efforts that their welfare needs are met as well as possible. Finally, the way forward is briefly discussed: efforts must be made to understand what fish welfare means in practical fish farming. This will involve the development of research and education, greater accountability and transparency, compliance with and control of policies, and quality assurance schemes.},
  author       = {Lund, Vonne and Mejdell, Cecilie M. and Röcklinsberg, Helena and Anthony, Ray and Hastein, Tore},
  issn         = {0177-5103},
  keyword      = {circle,fish welfare legislation,moral,animal ethics,fish sentience,fish welfare,animal welfare,aquaculture},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {109--118},
  publisher    = {Inter-Research},
  series       = {Diseases of Aquatic Organisms},
  title        = {Expanding the moral circle: farmed fish as objects of moral concern},
  volume       = {75},
  year         = {2007},
}