Mar 2008 - Dec 2008

Evaluation and modelling of benefits and costs of fish welfare interventions in European aquaculture

BENEFISH is a large EU STREP funded project involving partners from the UK, Norway, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Germany, along with associated industrial advisory groups from countries throughout Europe. The project aims to explore the costs and benefits of potential welfare interventions in a range of species farmed within Europe, which include rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, turbot, sole, sea bass and sea bream.

BENEFISH utilises existing industry and research datasets to identify and characterise the relationships between specific welfare interventions and four selected operational welfare indicators (OWI's): mortality rates, fin damage, deviation from expected feed intake and CO2 levels. The project then aims to establish the effects of each intervention on biological productivity and, importantly undertakes utility modelling to put a financial value on both the cost of implementation of each intervention and the resultant changes to productivity. Consumer perception analysis will be undertaken to identify consumers' potential response to changes to welfare, brought about by each intervention, and then BENEFISH will attempt to establish the 'added financial value' consumers are willing to pay for products farmed under differing welfare conditions. The ultimate goal therefore is to generate a 'decision tool' model which will describe resultant costs and benefits, in terms of the OWI, productivity, economics and consumer perception, of specific welfare interventions.

Until now, fish farmers within Europe have not been able to accurately establish the costs and benefits of changes to welfare in their industry. BENEFISH brings together biologists, economists, social scientists and modelers to generate species specific welfare models which provide the fish farming industry with both the financial and biological outcomes of welfare interventions. Visit project website.

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