Summary: Societal and political backgroundTraditionally, the welfare of fish compared to welfare of other, land farmed animalshas not been an important topic to consumers, producers and legislators, an attitudewhich is reflected in past research projects and legislation directed towards welfare,which hardly ever took fish into consideration. So why was and is fish, compared toother animals, not a hot topic regarding welfare concerns? First, there is a lack oftradition in perceiving fish as sentient beings as fish do not evoke compassion andconcern in humans in the same way other, warm-blooded animals do; second, there isstill no consensus among scientists wether fish are able to perceive pain and to suffer;third, large scale, industrialised aquaculture is a relatively recent farming method.Nevertheless, an increased concern for the welfare of fish in general and especially inaquaculture can be noticed in recent year, stimulated by research results suggestingawareness of pain and suffering, and reports on farming conditions detrimental tohealth and welfare.
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