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Addressing the welfare needs of farmed lumpfish: Knowledge gaps, challenges and solutions
Reviews in Aquaculture, Volume: 14, Issue: 1, Pages: 139 - 155
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Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus L.) are increasingly being used as cleaner fish to control parasitic sea lice, one of the most important threats to salmon farming. However, lumpfish cannot survive feeding solely on sea lice, and their mortality in salmon net-pens can be high, which has welfare, ethical...
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Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus L.) are increasingly being used as cleaner fish to control parasitic sea lice, one of the most important threats to salmon farming. However, lumpfish cannot survive feeding solely on sea lice, and their mortality in salmon net-pens can be high, which has welfare, ethical and economic implications. The industry is under increasing pressure to improve the welfare of lumpfish, but little guidance exists on how this can be achieved. We undertook a knowledge gap and prioritisation exercise using a Delphi approach with participants from the fish farming sector, animal welfare, academia and regulators to assess consensus on the main challenges and potential solutions for improving lumpfish welfare. Consensus among participants on the utility of 5 behavioural and 12 physical welfare indicators was high (87–89%), reliable (Cronbach's alpha = 0.79, 95CI = 0.69–0.92) and independent of participant background. Participants highlighted fin erosion and body damage as the most useful and practical operational welfare indicators, and blood parameters and behavioural indicators as the least practical. Species profiling revealed profound differences between Atlantic salmon and lumpfish in relation to behaviour, habitat preferences, nutritional needs and response to stress, suggesting that applying a common set of welfare standards to both species cohabiting in salmon net-pens may not work well for lumpfish. Our study offers 16 practical solutions for improving the welfare of lumpfish and illustrates the merits of the Delphi approach for achieving consensus among stakeholders on welfare needs, targeting research where is most needed and generating workable solutions.
cleaner fish, Delphi expert assessment, feeding rations, habitat preferences, operational welfare indicators, Salmon farming
College of Science
ERDF WEFO. Grant Number: SMARTAQUA;
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Grant Number: ARCH-UK;
Universities Federation for Animal Welfare;
The Scottish Salmon Company;
INTERREG Atlantic Area. Grant Number: Access2Sea;