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Fish consumption: choices in the intersection of public concern, fish welfare, food security, human health and climate change

By H. Rocklinsberg

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Future global food insecurity due to growing population as well as changing consumption demands and population growth is sometimes suggested to be met by increase in aquaculture production. This raises a range of ethical issues, seldom discussed together: fish welfare, food security, human health, climate change and environment, and public concern and legislation, which could preferably be seen as pieces in a puzzle, accepting their interdependency. A balanced decision in favour of or against aquaculture needs to take at least these issues into consideration. It is further argued that in the parallel discussion on increased livestock production animal welfare is an inevitable element both in relation to current legislation in many countries but also in relation to our perception of moral, whereas awareness of fish welfare is low. Both EU legislation and labelling concerning fish is mainly limited to environmental aspects. It is argued that EU shows a split perception of fish, on the one hand acknowledging scientific evidence of fish capacities but on the other excludes fish from detailed legislation. Combining the claim of the Treaty of Lisbon to pay full regard to animal welfare and scientific evidence fish are sentient it is concluded that fish welfare need to be considered in any farming practice and any ethical consideration of increased aquaculture. This might be facilitated taking a basis in our own vulnerability and interdependence, combined with moral responsibility to show sentient beings a 'loving kindness' - an extension of Cora Diamond's argument regarding mammals.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 28
Issue 3
Pages 533-551
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
DOI 10.1007/s10806-014-9506-y
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Box 7068, 750 07 Uppsala,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Aquacultural and fisheries
  3. Climate
  4. Constraints
  5. Decisions
  6. Ethics
  7. Europe
  8. Fish
  9. Food policy
  10. Health
  11. Legislation
  12. morality
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Public opinion
  1. peer-reviewed