Concerns and research priorities for Scottish farmed salmon welfare – An industry perspective

  • Key finding:

    Highlights •61 professionals employed in Scottish salmon farming were consulted on salmon welfare concerns and research priorities. •Seawater rearing, largely relating to sea lice challenges, was identified as a major area of welfare concern. •Gill health and water quality were two other major areas of concern. •Non-invasive, animal-based welfare indicators (e.g., behaviour) highlighted as a key area for further development. •Practices requiring contact with the salmon (e.g., crowding, interventions) emphasised as a priority for monitoring. Farmed salmon welfare is directly connected to the farming practices and conditions within the salmon farming industry. As Scottish salmon farming continues to expand and intensify, this growth has been met with increasing demands for improvements in the monitoring and safeguarding of salmon welfare. Meeting this demand, while maintaining productivity on-site, will require the use of effective welfare assessment tools. This study reports on a survey of the Scottish salmon farming industry, conducted to better understand current salmon welfare concerns and research priorities. A total of 61 professionals employed in Scottish salmon farming took part. Focus was intentionally put towards industry stakeholders that could provide insights into the current practices and challenges associated with monitoring and maintaining farmed salmon welfare. In terms of production stages, participants believed that the seawater rearing stage was of particular concern, largely due to challenges presented by sea lice. Gill health and environmental challenges (mainly relating to water quality) were two other highly ranked concerns. Developing on methods to monitor salmon welfare where disturbances and contact with the fish is unavoidable (e.g., during crowding, grading, and interventions) were emphasised as a priority. Participants also highlighted that non-invasive, remote, animal-based welfare measures were a key area for further development in on-farm welfare assessments. This study presents the first collection of opinions from professionals employed across the Scottish salmon farming industry regarding the current overall state of farmed salmon welfare. The results of this survey reflect the importance of using a combination of approaches within welfare assessments, and that behavioural analysis could play a more important role in ensuring these assessments benefit both salmon welfare and farm productivity.”

Links to Open Access Publications or DOI:


Timothy Robert Wiese, Marie Haskell, Susan Jarvis, Sonia Rey-Planellas, Jimmy Turnbull,
Concerns and research priorities for Scottish farmed salmon welfare – An industry perspective,
Volume 566,