New threat for Poland’s fish

09 May 2017

Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella

Today, 10th May, the Polish Parliament will be having a debate over potential changes in legislation that could result in the transportation of live carp and other fish out of water.

Our colleagues at CIWF Polska have been contacting Polish MPs in advance, in order to gain support for our opposition to this potential change in the law. We will be raising public awareness and highlighting the welfare implications of such a move.

Sentient beings

Fish are the ‘forgotten’ animal farmed for food Historically it has been thought that fish could not feel pain, or were not 'sentient' in the same way as other animals.

A report on The Strategy for the Sustainable Development of European Aquaculture, adopted by the European Parliament in 2010, recognised fish as sentient beings, and that Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty therefore requires EU countries to pay full regard to their welfare.

Furthermore, the EU Transport Directive requires all animals, including fish, to be transported without undue suffering. Consequently this potential new legislation does not appear to be compliant with existing EU legislation.

An outrageous proposal

Although carp have some capacity to cope with oxygen deficit, they need water to survive comfortably. Transportation for hours at a time out of water would be inhumane and cause undue suffering which could result in death.

A report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the welfare of animals during transport says: “Fish should normally be loaded and unloaded without being put into air, provided with high oxygen availability in the water and maintained at a stocking density which allows their needs to be met”. In addition, the World Organisation for Animal Health guidelines regarded by the European Commission as the benchmark for interpreting fish transport legislation, makes no reference to transportation of fish without the provision of water.

Emma Slawinski, our Director of Campaigns said: “To even suggest transportation of live fish out of water, regardless of the species, is simply an outrageous proposal.

“Fish have been recognised as sentient beings for some years now and we will be doing everything we can to ensure this shocking and completely unjustifiable request for legislative change is defeated."

More information about fish and their welfare can be found here.

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