Summary: Traditionally, the welfare of fish compared to welfare of other, land farmed animals has not been an important topic to consumers, producers and legislators, an attitude which 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 to other animals, not a hot topic regarding welfare concerns? First, there is a lack of tradition in perceiving fish as sentient beings as fish do not evoke compassion and concern in humans in the same way other, warm-blooded animals do; second, there is still 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 in aquaculture can be noticed in recent year, stimulated by research results suggesting awareness of pain and suffering, and reports on farming conditions detrimental to health and welfare. A Norwegian study done by the National Institute for Consumer Research in 2002 reveal that only 49% of the consumers considered welfare of aquacultured fish to be acceptable. About 40% pinpointed that they avoided buying certain fish types because they are sceptical regarding what the flesh might contain of medicines and feed additives.
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