AUSTIN, TEXAS — Global Animal Partnership (GAP) introduced a new animal welfare certification focused on Atlantic salmon on June 8. The multi-tiered certification is the 10th GAP certification and will strive to create more humane farming of Atlantic salmon.

According to GAP, millions of Atlantic salmon are farmed annually, representing about 70% of all salmon raised. Salmon are also sentient and can experience sensations like pain, stress and fear, according to GAP.

"Aquaculture was a natural next step for us," said Anne Malleau, executive director of GAP. "With the exponential increase in salmon farming in recent years, we see an opportunity to increase our impact, adding aquaculture to our standards. As always, we are committed to putting the animal first, and have created a program that is meaningful to all sizes of operations across the supply chain."

The new certification was developed using GAP’s other certification standards, which currently impact more than 400 farm animals yearly. The Atlantic salmon certification involved multiple stakeholders and was developed with aid from producers, scientists, retailers and nonprofit organizations.

The Atlantic salmon certification focuses on all life-stages of the fish from hatching to harvesting and spans the entire fish supply chain. Areas within the certification include: life-stage enrichment, stocking density requirements, cleaner care and management, strict water quality monitoring, non-lethal predator control, skin and body monitoring and slaughtering requirements.

"Fish are sentient animals capable of suffering and feeling pain, so it's important that we protect their welfare,” said Ben Williamson, US director of Compassion in World Farming. “The new GAP standards for Atlantic salmon are now the highest and most comprehensive available. While a ban on the use of cleaner fish in salmon farms remains a long-term goal of Compassion in World Farming, GAP’s requirements for humane slaughter, environmental enrichment, and the prohibition of detrimental sea lice treatments are all welcome additions to minimum welfare considerations for farmed salmon. This is also the first time we've seen bans on lethal and injurious predator control methods for any species at this scale."

With detailed requirements, the certification has already been named the leading standard by the Aquatic Life Institute.

"GAP’s new salmon standard is a game changer in terms of animal welfare in the aquaculture industry,” said Catalina Lopez-Salazar, director of the Aquatic Animal Alliance at the Aquatic Life Institute. “It will provide much-needed guidance, support and accountability to a sector that has faced major animal welfare concerns. We are thrilled to see a standard that is so comprehensive in its animal welfare indicators and hope that this can serve as a catalyst for other standard-making bodies.”

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