Implementing novel feeding strategies to improve animal welfare and the release success of commercial fish farms
Fish farming involves the commercial breeding of fish for food production purposes or for the rehabilitation of declining natural fish populations. Thus, improving the yield and success of commercial fish farms is not only of major economic concern, but is highly relevant to the success of conservation programs. One of the most important species produced in fish farms is the Atlantic salmon, which is highly threatened in their natural habitat. For many species bred in captivity, including fish, the availability of an unlimited supply of food is known to negatively impact the capacity to cope with stress. The success of fish farms largely depends on the production of unstressed individuals, in perfect condition to become either, high-quality food or successful re-introductions into the wild. Fish products derived from stressed individuals have a shorter shelf life, and higher levels of stress leads to low reintroduction success rates. Surprisingly, this fact is rarely considered during the commercial production of fish and very often, individuals are reared under an unlimited food supply. In this project we are proposing to raise awareness to stakeholders of fish farms, to implement novel feeding strategies that consider the consequences of overfeeding. Our project has two main aims: (1) to experimentally investigate the consequences of different feeding strategies on individual stress responses; and (2) to improve awareness in fish farms across Sweden and Austria, that overfeeding leads to economic losses and issues in conservation programs.