The awards aim 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.

According to Compassion, improvements in fish welfare are lagging behind those for terrestrial animals, largely because fish sentience is generally less recognised. However, they noted that Mowi “has demonstrated leadership in this area by 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 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 percent of their salmon 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, Compassion hopes 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 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, so that for every salmon they produce 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 for fish health and welfare at 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.

Dr Tracey Jones, global director of food business at compassion concluded: “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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