Reporting fish experiments: are national statistics adequate?

Bjørn Groven, secretary to the Norwegian Animal Research Authority (NARA), Oslo & Gunvor Knudsen, Laboratory Animal Unit, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo


Fish represent about 95% of research animals used in Norway. The number of fish, reported as research animals in Norway in 2003, is 796,500.  Statistics are reported once a year by the 16 member parties of the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes.  The tables to be used for reporting are given in appendix B of the Convention (EC-statistics).  In Norway, the statistics are a modified version of the tables in Appendix B. In addition 1.4 million fish were reported from research facilities where they had not been subjected to procedures defining them as research animals. Because of these high numbers of fish Norwegian authorities have initiated an initiative to reduce them.


After reviewing the Norwegian statistics the numbers of experimental fish declined from 796,500 to 400,500, mainly due to wrong reporting. The amount of animals not considered as research animals increased from 1.4 million to 1.8 million. The same year, losses of salmon at production facilities in the sea due to diseases alone was 13.6 million.


For several countries national and EC-statistics may differ significantly, mostly because the national and EC definition of what is a “research animal” differs. The category “fish” and not the species or group of fish is presented in the EC-tables.