Compassion in World Farming today welcomed the return of its prestigious Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, at a ceremony in London.

The Awards are the pinnacle of Compassion’s Food Business programme, providing the perfect opportunity to showcase the work of food businesses around the world that make genuine and meaningful improvements to the lives of farmed animals, and the sustainability of their supply chains. In total, there were 27 Awards spanning the globe, which are set to benefit over 138 million animals each year.

MOWI received a Special Recognition Award after becoming the first producer to make global welfare commitments on the rearing and slaughter of Atlantic salmon. As the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon (around 465,000 metric tons of salmon (gwt) per annum), this commitment is set to benefit around 122 million salmon each year, across sites in Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Faroe Islands, Canada and Chile.

MOWI uses a stun-kill percussive system, in accordance with Compassion’s recommendation, for 100% of their salmon from all their farm sites, and across all countries, to ensure they are humanely killed.

Compassion recommends a stocking density volume of an average of 10kg/m³ or less. MOWI is the first producer to commit to a global ‘free from confinement’ stocking density policy for Atlantic Salmon, in line with these recommendations. They track stocking densities across all sites and countries at all times and their stocking densities, across their seawater sites have an average monthly standing stocking density of approximately 8kg/m³ in the MOWI Group – significantly lower than the maximum permitted stocking density of 25kg/m³ allowed in sea pens – providing the fish with more space to swim.

MOWI has also made several other global commitments, in line with Compassion’s recommendations including, but not limited to:

· Sufficient environmental enrichment in pens

· No routine mutilations

· No use of generic engineering or growth promoters

As well as encouraging other businesses to follow suit, it is hoped that MOWI’s new policy could be used to encourage certification schemes to fill gaps in their welfare recommendations. In addition, any food businesses supplied by MOWI including retailers and distributors or processors, can adopt these recommendations in their own policies, creating a positive welfare ‘ripple effect’ right the way through the supply chain.

MOWI has already implemented a game changing QR Tracking system for farmed salmon, which improves the transparency of their own supply chain. Their traceability platform collects data from different MOWI production and supply chain systems where the salmon are raised. This data is then harmonized and structured so that for every MOWI salmon produced there is a single, searchable data source including detailed information like:

· Where and when the salmon/roe was hatched

· What freshwater facility the salmon was in and how long it was there

· What sea site the salmon was raised on

· How the salmon was processed when harvested

By integrating MOWI’s supply chain systems with its printing processes, every individual pack of MOWI salmon is scannable by consumers. Consumers scan the QR code on the packaging with a smartphone camera tracing the full lifecycle of the salmon.

Dr Gordon Ritchie, Group Manager Fish Health & Welfare, Mowi ASA said: “Mowi are very proud to receive this prestigious award from CIWF, for recognition of our standard on the humane slaughter of fish using percussive stunning. This policy, which matches CIWF’s Flagship recommendation, is applied to all our ocean reared salmon globally, harvested on an annual basis. By recognising the importance of fish sentience, Mowi has implemented several other husbandry standards directed towards the welfare and well-being of our fish.

“As the largest producer of ocean reared salmon, it is our responsibility to develop industry leading standards on welfare and sustainable practices and to make continuous improvements, all underpinned by investment in robust research and development by dedicated teams across the entire value chain.

“Mowi would like to thank CIWF for their continued direction and consultation in leading us forward and targeting other Flagship recommendations”

Dr Tracey Jones, Global Director of Food Business at Compassion concluded: “This year’s Awards have been truly inspirational with companies showing genuine leadership and motivation at a time when the global food industry has been confronted with serious issues following the pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine. The continued progress for animal welfare is heartening, whilst the ongoing work in the future food space is encouraging and signals that the food industry is ready to tackle one of the biggest challenges of our time – how to build a humane, sustainable, and resilient food system for all.

“Awareness of the sentience of fish and of the welfare issues relating to fish farming is relatively new compared to other farmed animals but getting such a big player as MOWI on board, and actively making changes to their policies, is a big step forward in achieving wider recognition of the need to improve the plight of farmed fish. As the first salmon producer to make global welfare commitments for both humane slaughter and reduced stocking densities of this magnitude, MOWI really is setting an example for others to follow and wholly deserves the Special Recognition Award.”

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