Aquaculture Consultation: Feed withdrawal periods
The Soil Association is consulting on proposed changes to one of its organic aquaculture standards and is calling on producers, industry experts and consumers with an interest in organic aquaculture to have their say.
Why are we consulting?
One of our four higher standards in aquaculture is a limit on the time that feed can be withheld from Atlantic salmon, trout and Artic charr – 40 degree days. This period is known either as ‘fasting period’, ‘starve period’ or ‘feed withdrawal’.
The period of 40 degree days in our standards is based on our general knowledge of current best practice in the industry, standards consultation feedback and our subsequent committee discussions. Our standard used to stipulate 72 hours or 40 degree days, however the Farm Animal Welfare Committee recommended in its 2014 report that using degree days (sea temperature x days) rather than time alone, is a better assurance of measuring the true effects of starvation on fish welfare.
However, it is also acknowledged in the literature that the scientific basis for stipulating an exact degree day maximum is limited. Recent research on feed withdrawal periods in Atlantic salmon that found that a 14 day period of starvation at average sea temperature of 4 degrees, had no adverse effect on welfare.
Some licensees have asked us if we would find 45 degree days acceptable and have questioned why we have put the line at 40 degree days. The RSPCA has relatively recently changed the fasting period for trout from 72 hours to 54 degree days.
Therefore, there are grounds to examine whether our standard needs to be more nuanced and to take a more in-depth look at all of the issues surrounding fasting periods, and the needs of each species.
How you can help
You can take part in the consultation by clicking here. The consultation will close on Tuesday 11th December, after running for 60 days.
If you would prefer to respond to the in writing, you can do so by emailing email@example.com