Humane killing of farmed fish

27 November 2012


David Martin (S&D)



I refer to the Commission’s answer E-008181/2012 to my written question. The answer refers to Article 27 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. Article 27 requires the Commission to submit a report no later than 8 December 2014 on the possibility of introducing certain requirements regarding the protection of fish at the time of killing.

My question, however, focused on Article 3(1) of Regulation 1099/2009, which comes into force on 1 January 2013. Article 1 makes it clear that Article 3(1) applies to farmed fish. Article 3(1) provides that animals must be spared any avoidable pain, distress or suffering during their killing.

My question pointed out that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had concluded in scientific opinions in 2009 that certain commonly used methods of killing farmed rainbow trout in EU aquaculture, and all the common methods of killing farmed sea bass and sea bream, involved poor welfare practices and suffering.

In addition, Article 7.3.6(4) of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Aquatic Animal Health Code (Chapter 7.3: Welfare aspects of stunning and killing of farmed fish for human consumption) states that the following slaughter methods have been shown to result in poor fish welfare and therefore should not be used: chilling with ice in holding water, carbon dioxide (CO2) in holding water, chilling with ice and CO2 in holding water, salt or ammonia baths, asphyxiation by removal from water, and exsanguination without stunning. These methods are used in EU aquaculture.

It is clear from the EFSA opinions and the OIE recommendations that certain commonly used methods of killing farmed fish breach Article 3(1) of Regulation 1099/2009 as they cause avoidable pain, distress or suffering. What steps is the Commission taking to inform Member States and aquaculture operators that certain methods of slaughtering farmed fish will be in breach of EU legislation from 1 January 2013?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission:

30 January 2013

Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009(1) on the protection of animals at the time of killing does not provide a list of authorised methods for stunning fish. The Commission does not foresee any actions in this matter for the near future other than those already mentioned in its reply to Written Question E-008181/2012 by the Honourable Member(2).

(1) OJL 303, 18.11.2009. p 1.