Welfare is an individual attribute. In general, providing captive nonhuman animals with conditions conducive to good welfare is an idea more easily applied when dealing with few individuals. However, this becomes much harder—if not impossible—under farming conditions that may imply high numbers of animals living in large group sizes. Although this is a problem inherent to intensive animal farming, it is possibly best exemplified in fish farming, for these practices often rely on extremely high numbers. In this paper we review evidence supporting the notion that fishes are individuals and fish welfare should thus also be considered at the individual level, examine the current state of welfare assessment in the aquaculture industry, evaluate these practices in light of individualized terrestrial animal welfare assessment methods, and make recommendations regarding research that could lead to a better understanding of how to provide each individual fish with good welfare in captivity.
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