Improving tuna welfare

Bitung, Indonesia

Humane killing of tuna in commercial fisheries

It has been shown that fish are sentient beings, meaning that they have the ability to experience pain and stress. Methods to reduce stress and pain for fish when they have been caught are almost entirely absent in commercial fisheries. Unlike with cattle and chicken farming, there are also no rules or regulations when it comes to killing fish and other seafood species in wild capture fisheries.

The Fish Tales Foundation is dedicated to change this. With our project, we will pioneer on developing and implementing the first humane killing method for skipjack tuna. This innovative and potentially groundbreaking project can mean a breakthrough not only for the skipjack tuna fishery in this project, but for all tuna fisheries using pole and line worldwide.

For this project, we work together with the Fair Trade fishery in Bitung, Indonesia of Bintang Mandiri Bersaudara. We develop a device that can be easily placed on board these vessels that can be used to kill the tuna immediately after capture. This device should make sure that the tuna are killed as fast as possible, but it is even so important that this device is safe and easy to handle for the vessel crew. We work together with a specialist on fish welfare applications to develop the device. Wageningen Livestock Research in joining our project for the scientific tests in the laboratory and onboard.

Alongside improvements on the killing process of the fish, we also work on other adaptations that will improve fish welfare on board the vessels, for example providing a softer landing when the tuna enter the deck of the boat. Also, we study what the effects are on the way of working for the crew on board. Will this change the way they work and the role they have on board? Also questions like the effect on the quality of the tuna and the commercial implications are studied.

After successful completion of this project, the innovations can be adapted in other fisheries using different gear and/or targeting other (tuna) species. We will develop a roadmap for other tuna fisheries to support and stimulate the implementation of the improvements in other tuna fisheries worldwide.

Interested in supporting or joining this project? Contact us!

Read more about the project in this one pager.

“With this project, the fishery is working on a breakthrough in the topic of fish welfare in wild capture fisheries. This is truly unique. I am looking forward to this collaboration and with the Fish Tales Foundation contirbute to this unique project.”

– Irene, Fish Tales Foundation

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