Experiences from Inspection of Fish Research Facilities in the UK


Kathy Ryder, Home Office Inspectorate, U.K.


About 150 000 fish were used in scientific experiments in 2003 in the UK. The purpose of these experiments can be described within the following categories:

·        Fundamental biological research

·        Protection of man, animals or environment

·        Applied Veterinary Medicine

·        Breeding

The range of facilities available for research on fish within the UK is large, from small, high-quality, laboratory specification facilities holding a few semi-static tanks, to large-scale commercial farms holding thousands of fish, including sea sites. The most important issue for a facility is that it is fit for purpose, and that the welfare of the animals can be assured, including during any “breakdowns of service”.

In many cases, the consideration of welfare other than water quality lags behind the thinking for mammalian and amphibian scientific research. The issue of pain in fish during and after procedures now needs to be discussed. The provision of an environment that is barren would not now be considered acceptable for these other species, unless specific justification was provided. Such environments are still commonplace in fish housing. It is accepted that the provision of good water quality is paramount, but consideration will be given to the types of enrichment that could be considered for some species of fish. A rationale for selection of enrichment that is appropriate to the species will be presented. Simple non-quantitative evaluation of the potential of enrichment to improve welfare will be considered. Potential problems with use will be discussed.