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RSPCA Assured New Farmed Atlantic Salmon Standards

Salmon Is One Of The UK’s Most Popular Food Exports 

Over the past few years, salmon’s popularity as a UK meal has been leaping. As the easy-to-cook, healthier choice, the world has developed a big appetite for salmon. In fact, after meat chickens, salmon is now the most commonly farmed animal in the UK.

Are There Welfare Issues Around Farmed Salmon?

Unlike land animals, the number of fish farmed in the UK every year is not recorded, since production is measured in ‘tonnes’ rather than individual lives. So it is surprising that despite salmon being one of the UK’s biggest exports (over 200,000 annually), there is currently no detailed welfare legislation to protect them.

The RSPCA and RSPCA Assured are working hard to improve welfare conditions for farmed salmon, but we can’t enforce laws. All we can do is work with willing producers and farmers who voluntarily opt into our higher welfare farming standards. To make any positive changes and protect salmon welfare by law, we need government support. 

What Do the RSPCA and RSPCA Assured Do To Improve Salmon Welfare? 

RSPCA Assured was founded 30 years ago, with the mission of improving the welfare of farmed animals. As the RSPCA’s not-for-profit ethical food label and farm assurance scheme, to this day, we remain the only farm assurance scheme focused solely on animal welfare.

When RSPCA Assured launched in 1994, we only had standards for the welfare of farmed land animals. It was only in 2002, that the first set of standards to protect the welfare of farmed Atlantic salmon was produced.

What Effect Do The RSPCA’s Salmon Welfare Standards Have?

The RSPCA’s Farmed Atlantic Salmon Welfare Standards cover every aspect of life from hatching to humane slaughter. These standards have been the catalyst for change throughout the salmon industry with most farms in Scotland now adopting them. They are also now internationally recognised as being world-leading. If it weren't for the work of the RSPCA and RSPCA Assured these, and many other significant welfare improvements, would never have been made. 

We are proud of the work we do and we are confident that the standards are improving the lives of farmed salmon, but that doesn’t mean we can afford to stand still. The amount of salmon being farmed is increasing every year, and we need to keep up with new technologies and farming methods, to ensure we are always rising to the challenge. 

Our commitment to always improve the welfare standards for all animals, including salmon,  means standards must be continuously updated. The RSPCA’s latest welfare standards for farmed Atlantic salmon include over 300 changes and amendments. Salmon farmers now have to adhere to more than 700 different welfare standards to gain RSPCA Assured higher welfare certification. 

Will The New Salmon Standards Really Make A Difference?

Yes, we think they will. A huge proportion of the world’s population consumes animal products, and to meet this need the number of animals being farmed annually is increasing. With salmon being one of the UK’s biggest exports, the market has to adapt to keep up, and where legislation fails to protect welfare, we will not. We will always work to improve the lives of farmed animals, both in the water and on land by encouraging the food and farming industries to adopt higher welfare standards.

How Do Salmon Standards Stay Up To Date?  

There will always be challenges to overcome in the salmon farming industry, so we will always be learning and looking forward to finding solutions. Only by assuming a holistic approach, and working with industry, alongside scientists, veterinarians and welfare specialists can we hope to understand and continue improving the lives of fish in the future.

What Does RSPCA Stand For When It Comes To Farmed Salmon?

The RSPCA’s standards set the bar for baseline legislative welfare standards to aspire to. Our approach is to shake up the standards of other assurance schemes and to make retailers question their own standards. We want to have an international impact by providing a reference point for NGOs, scientists and governments overseas. 

The success of RSPCA Assured proves that farmed animals can live better lives and be raised to higher welfare standards. But it’s you, the consumer that drives these changes. Every time you buy RSPCA Assured salmon or other product, you support us and the work we do by sending a message. 

Learn more about RSPCA Assured’s work in the salmon industry.

About the author

Jodie Adam - Website Manager

Jodie is RSPCA Assured's Website Manager. 

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