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MARINFORSKFISK-Marine ressurser og miljø - fiskeri

Welfare conscious capture and slaughter of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus L.) in the Norwegian rod and line fishery.

Alternative title: Weltuna: Fiskevelferd under fangst og avliving av makrellstørje (Thunnus thynnus L) det norske stangfisket.

Awarded: NOK 10.0 mill.

Project Number:


Application Type:

Project Period:

2024 - 2027


Stress experienced by fish during capture and handling is known to affect the quality of their meat products or their survival potential if they are released. WelTuna will improve animal welfare by minimising this stress in wild-capture rod-and-line (R&L) fisheries for Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABT), and thereby improve sustainability and product quality in commercial fisheries. Recreational, commercial and scientific fishing of ABT using R&L from coastal powerboats is developing rapidly in Norway. R&L has great potential as a welfare-responsible capture method for ABT because unlike most other commercial methods, each fish is caught relatively quickly and handled individually. As well as researchers, WelTuna will include fishers, fishery managers, buyers, processors, animal welfare agencies and NGOs from around the world. Our team will use state-of-the-art methods and technologies to monitor the welfare status of individual ABT throughout capture, handling and slaughter, and relate this to the meat quality for each fish. This new knowledge will be used to develop improved capture and handling methods that minimise stress, maintain product quality and avoid the unintended escape of ABT. We will also study the structure and activity of the ABT brain, to develop humane stunning methods that further reduce stress during handling and slaughter. In collaboration with international experts in ABT biology and meat quality, we will provide guidelines on best practice for capture, handling, slaughter, storage and quality control in R&L tuna fisheries to promote sustainability, good welfare and best quality. We hope that this will inspire the development of sustainable welfare-responsible fishing practices to other fisheries, both in Norway and internationally.

This project will improve animal welfare in wild-capture rod-and-line (R&L) fisheries for Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABT; Thunnus thynnus). By improving welfare, the project intends to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing through improvements to sustainability and product quality. Since the re-establishment of the Norwegian ABT quota, the traditional capture method (purse seine) has not been efficient or profitable. As purse seiners target aggregations of fish, animal welfare and product quality are easily compromised. In 2022, only 48% of the 315-tonne purse seine quota was caught. A rod-and-line (R&L) fishery using coastal powerboats has also developed. In 2022, ~100 ABT were caught by R&L for recreational, commercial and scientific purposes. R&L capture overcomes many of the issues associated with purse seine fishing. Catching fish one-by-one gives the opportunity to maintain welfare and quality at the individual level. Norwegian R&L fishing for ABT is therefore well placed to transition towards an animal welfare conscious and environmentally sustainable fish capture method. However, knowledge gaps exist that hinder this transition: 1. Lack of knowledge of the animal welfare impacts of capture and slaughter; 2. Sub-optimal handling practices and limited processing infrastructure 3. Limited understanding of ABT behaviour and distribution 4. Bycatch and escape rates are unknown The project is organised into four scientific work-packages (“Capture”, “Stunning”, “Welfare” and “Quality”) and a management WP to coordinate activities and communication. Fundamental to the project design is that every fish caught will be used by each scientific WP, with each using specific methodologies to address their respective objectives. The project will also benefit from the input of various stakeholders, including fishers, fishery managers, fish buyers, fish processors, animal welfare agencies and NGOs.

Funding scheme:

MARINFORSKFISK-Marine ressurser og miljø - fiskeri

Thematic Areas and Topics

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