OVERALL WELFARE ASSESSMENT OF ATLANTIC SALMON IN SEA CAGES – SWIM 1.0 by Lars H. Stien, Marc B. M. Bracke, Ole Folkedal, Silje Kittilsen, Paul J. Midtlyng, Jonatan Nilsson, Frode Oppedal, Thomas Torgersen, Øyvind Øverli and Tore S. Kristiansen
ANIMAL WELFARE – A NEED FOR CONCEPTUAL CLARITY by T. S. Kristiansen, M. B. M. Bracke, L. H. Stien and T. Torgersen
The oral presentations were presented in the Welfare management session, chaired by Tore S Kristiansen, SALMOWA project leader and leader of the Animal Welfare research group at the Institute of Marine Research, Norway, and Catarina Martins, senior scientist at CCMAR, Algarve Centre for Marine Sciences, Faro University, Portugal.
Lars Stien gave first a demonstration of the SWIM software and the SWIM model and then a short introduction to semantic modeling, the basis of the model and how the model has been constructed. The take home message was that the SALMOWA team has created model for overall assessment of salmon welfare in sea cages for fish farmers called SWIM 1.0. The main purpose of the SWIM 1.0 model is to act as a diagnostic tool that can identify poor welfare conditions and most importantly which indicators that have contributed negatively to the overall scoring. In this way the fish farmer can easily focus on those aspects than can improve the conditions for the fish. SWIM 1.0 may also be used as a farm control system for the authorities.
Need for conceptual clarity
In an invited key-note lecture (LINK) Tore S Kristiansen discussed what animal welfare is and what it is not, and argued for the need for better conceptual clarity for the different concepts related to animal welfare. The “welfare” concept should be restricted for animals with advanced CNS capable of subjective experience of their quality of life. He also referred to several review papers the recent years that have strongly indicated that also fish should be included. He suggested the following definitions to improve the conceptual clarity:
Welfare state - an individual animal’s experienced overall affective/emotional state at a given moment in time, i.e. its experienced quality of life at this time.
Welfare - the integrated quality of life, i.e. experienced rewarding and aversive welfare states over a chosen period of time.
Group welfare - the distribution of the individuals’ welfare (or welfare states) in the given group.
Welfare indicators – observable, measurable, and scalable (from good to poor) attributes of the animal and/or its environment that are correlated with the focal animal’s welfare.
Animal-based welfare indicators – welfare indicators based on observations of the animals themselves, ranging from observations of behaviour and performance to biochemical samples (function based indicators).
Resource-based welfare indicators – welfare indicators based on observations of environmental conditions and available resources (e.g. water quality, food availability and safety, handling).
Welfare needs – requirements as perceived by the animals, i.e. as monitored by the animals’ emotional/affective systems.
Overall welfare assessment (OWA) - Making a science-based evaluation of the welfare of a selected group of animals using a set of animal-based and resource-based welfare indicators, with the intention of covering all of the animals’ welfare needs.
Operational welfare indicators – welfare indicators that are feasible to use to assess welfare, e.g. on full-scale/commercial fish farms
Welfare management – to manage the operations and rearing environment in a way that fulfils the welfare needs of the farmed fish species and let the fish cope successfully. i.e. the regulatory range of allostatic mechanisms matches the environmental demands.