Minding the Gaps in Fish Welfare: The Untapped Potential of Fish Farm Workers
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. 2021, 34 (5), 1-22. 10.1007/s10806-021-09869-w
The welfare of farmed fish is often regarded with less concern than the welfare of other husbandry animals, as fish are not universally classified as sentient beings. In Norway, farmed fish and other husbandry animals are legally protected under the same laws. Additionally, the legislature has defined a number of aquaculture-specific amendments, including mandatory welfare courses for fish farmers who have a key role in securing animal welfare, also with regards to noting welfare challenges in the production process. This article uses fish welfare courses as a site from which to inquire about the common-sense understanding of fish welfare in Norwegian fish farming. The focus is specifically on fish farm employees, their experiences of welfare-related issues and contradictions in their daily work, and the struggle to act responsibly in aquaculture settings. Through participant observation at welfare courses, as well as interviews and conversations with fish farm workers, the article details how challenges are experienced ‘on the ground’, and suggests how fish farm workers’ own experiential knowledge might be mobilized to improve the general welfare of farmed fish.