Farmed Salmonid Code of Practice - Progress Update

Fourth meeting – March 4 and 5, 2020

This meeting opened with a general discussion on a listing of draft requirements and recommended practices developed to date for the farmed salmonid Code of Practice. With a majority of the Code chapters drafted, the listing enabled the Code Development Committee to take a step back from any specific section of the Code and gain a sense of how the overall draft Code is coming together.

From there, the Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee presented their research summaries on ice slurry slaughter and water quality issues in recirculating aquaculture systems.

In terms of Code content, the Code Committee focused on hatcheries and nurseries – a critically important production stage necessitating attentive, skilled husbandry. Content was drafted on egg management, first feeding, lighting, and optimizing pre- and post-transfer conditions for grow out. Beyond this, the Code Committee worked through a draft Code chapter on euthanasia, slaughter, and mass depopulation (e.g. acceptable methods, training and protocols, and criteria for euthanasia).

In April, the Scientific Committee and their Research Writer presented the remaining chapters of their report on priority welfare issues: welfare impacts of sea lice and associated treatments, stocking density, and indicators of acute and chronic stress in salmonids. With all chapters of the Scientific Committee’s research report now drafted and presented to the Code Committee, the report will now be submitted for peer review. 

The next meeting has been scheduled for June 2020. Due to the pandemic, it will be an on-line meeting.

Third meeting – November 6 and 7, 2019

This meeting opened with a discussion about the need for appendices within the Code of Practice on practical tools of use to producers and other end users of the Code (e.g. template records, decision trees, visuals to support fish health and welfare assessment). The Code Development Committee also had an opportunity to finalize the scope of this code, which will focus on farmed salmonids (trout, char, salmon).

In addition to on-farm preparations for transport, this Code will cover the care and handling of fish during the actual transportation process. This is a departure from the approach of other on-farm Codes. After careful consideration, and consultation with the transportation Code director, the Code Committee felt that the many distinct features of fish transportation warrant its inclusion in the farmed salmonid Code rather than the transportation Code of Practice. One example, among many, is that fish are often transported by boat and the transportation Code is strictly focused on road transportation.

The Code Committee then turned its attention to revising the chapter on transportation with emphasis on new content on the actual transportation process (e.g. monitoring water quality and fish behaviour, emergency preparedness and response). They also revisited selected sections of the husbandry and health chapters (e.g. knowledge/skills of personnel, pest and predator control, fallowing). Preliminary content on lighting and feed withdrawal were also drafted. 

Another highlight of the meeting was a presentation by the co-Chair of the Scientific Committee on their synthesis of research on fish consciousness and sentience.

The next meeting has been scheduled for March 2020.

Second meeting – September 5 and 6, 2019

Since the May meeting, subcommittees from the Code Development Committee have been meeting by teleconference to develop preliminary Code content. This helped ensure better quality drafts were brought to the face-to-face meeting in September, which focused on the following four chapters of the draft Code of Practice: pre-transportation (e.g. assessing fitness for transport), feeding management (e.g. quality of feeds, feeding methods), health (e.g. health plans, skin and gill health), and husbandry (e.g. handling, grading). The co-Chair of the Scientific Committee presented the draft research report sections on lighting and feed withdrawal. 

At the end of day 2, the committee reviewed the input from the top-of-mind survey to confirm that insights from that outreach are being considered along the way. A comparison of international fish welfare standards was prepared and is also informing the committee’s discussions.

The committee also had a general discussion about the great diversity in the farmed fish sector and the importance of ensuring this Code is workable for all farms – small and large.

The next meeting has been scheduled for November.

First meeting – May 16 and 17, 2019

The inaugural meeting for this first-ever Canadian Code of Practice for Farmed Salmonids was held in May. The objectives for this meeting were to provide committee members with an orientation to the Code development process and allow participants to get to know each other and establish specific approaches to reaching consensus.   

In addition, both the Code and Scientific Committees reached agreement on a final list of priority welfare issues for the Scientific Committee’s research report. They also reviewed a detailed analysis of a recent online survey on top-of-mind concerns for fish welfare (a synopsis of survey findings is available here). The committees were pleased the public and all stakeholders were engaged at this early stage and sees value in reporting back on how these top-of-mind concerns are addressed in the eventual Code.

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance presented an overview of the industry today and participants offered insights on unique production and regulatory contexts across Canada.

tentative outline for the Code has been drafted:

  1. Hatcheries
  2. Enclosures
  3. Feeding management
  4. Health management
  5. Husbandry
  6. Euthanasia
  7. Transportation
  8. On-farm slaughter
  9. Mass depopulation

The next meeting has been scheduled for early fall.