The aquaculture, commercial and recreational fisheries sectors along with the FRDC have recognised the need to continue the work of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) Aquatic Animal Working Group (AAWG) (2005-2013). In September 2018, the FRDC funded a workshop to review the activities of the AAWS-AAWG and for the industry peak bodies to prioritize knowledge gaps for future R&D. One of the recommendations from the workshop funded by FRDC 2017-221 was to conduct a stocktake of the current industry processes and legislation that relate to aquatic animal welfare.
The initial stocktake was completed in 2006 by Dr Paul Hardy-Smith and colleagues. The aquatic animal welfare landscape has significantly changed since 2006. States and Territories are developing animal welfare legislation and guidelines that either specifically addresses aquatic animal welfare considerations and/or includes aquatic animals (e.g. fish, crustaceans) under the definition of “animal” in the legislation. This changing landscape has implications for “in-field” practices (e.g. methods used to kill aquatic animals) and other practices (e.g. transportation of live aquatic animals).
It is critically important that the commercial wild capture, aquaculture and recreational fishing sectors understand the implications of this changing landscape. These sectors need to ensure their own guidelines or codes of conduct are addressing the regional requirements and if they are not, then it is important that they are assisted in addressing changes to protect themselves. It is important that aquatic animal welfare requirements in no way place human welfare at risk. There is a need to promote the changes to industry practice that have positive outcomes for aquatic animal welfare and to ensure industry practices are keeping within the welfare requirements of that State or Territory.
Our project will comprehensively document and analyse the legislative framework as it applies to aquatic animal welfare in each State and Territory. The project will identify key areas of concern for commercial wild capture, aquaculture and recreational sectors which will be used to assist in developing priority case studies.