Comparison of Norwegian health and welfare regulatory frameworks in salmon and chicken production
The health and welfare of farmed fish are often regarded with less concern than for other production animals. This review compares the Norwegian legal health and welfare frameworks for broiler chickens and farmed salmon, with the aim of improving regulations for salmon farming in Norway. Highlighting differences in laws, regulations and governmental organisation are also highly relevant in general, especially in developing welfare regulations for farmed fish in other countries. Norwegian chicken farmers must comply with two main laws, the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act and the Food Act, governed by the same ministry and governmental agency. The salmon farmers must in addition relate to the Aquaculture Act, different ministries and several agencies with different objectives. Compared to the regulation of chicken farming, the regulation of salmon farming is more complex, has potentially conflicting aims and uses less positive welfare phrasings. Thus, the regulation may be perceived as focusing on profitability over welfare. Despite having many similar paragraphs to regulation for chicken farming, salmon farming regulation is less strict in the daily securing of animals and recordings of mortality. There is no specified slaughterhouse control of high-density productions, as there is for broiler chickens. There are also differences in the mandatory welfare courses, one being that infection prevention is a stated topic for chickens. The Norwegian Animal Welfare Act has no possibility of dispensation, meaning exceptions, and treats fish and other animals equally. Future regulatory frameworks for farmed fish production should avoid unintended downgrading of fish health and welfare.