World - The Secret Lives of Farmed Fish
A new study finds that monitoring the behaviour of farmed fish using tags can provide scientists with important information – but it can also create welfare issues
Aquaculture is becoming increasingly important as a source of food for our growing population. Worldwide, billions of fish are farmed and eaten every year, and humans now consume more farmed than wild caught fish.
As aquaculture production expands, however, the behaviour of many species of farmed fish remains a mystery.
We have a responsibility, both economic and ethical, to look after the welfare of animals we farm, but this lack of knowledge creates key challenges when it comes to animal husbandry in aquaculture.
For millennia, farmers have watched and learnt from their animals, and adapted their farming methods to improve animal welfare and production.
When farm animals behave abnormally this usually suggests something is wrong. For instance, a dairy cow with lameness will spend more time lying down than a healthy cow.
But the underwater lives of fish makes their care trickier. They are out of sight beneath the surface, and individuals are anonymous in the huge schools of fish in the tanks and cages they are kept in.
Using tags is one way to better understand the secret lives of fish underwater.