Species-Specific Provisions for Fish in the European Convention for the Protection of Animals used for Experimental and Scientific Purposes
Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Scotland
Species-specific provisions for fish have been drafted as part of Appendix A of the European Convention for the Production of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes. The provisions provide guidelines for the accommodation and care of fish and will be submitted for approval to the Fourth Multilateral Consultation of Parties to the Convention. It is hoped they will provide a first European-wide standard for the welfare of fish used for scientific purposes. The provisions include sections on Environment and its control, including water quality parameters, lighting, noise and alarm systems; Health, including hygiene, disinfection and quarantine; Housing and enrichment, including stocking density and environmental complexity, buildings and fish holding systems, handling and humane killing; and Transport. Given the large number of fish species used in Europe for experimental studies, the wide variety of habitats from which they originate, and the range of experimental systems used, it proved impossible to provide specific guidelines for individual species. This was compounded by the surprising lack of knowledge, and thus agreement, on the requirements of even commonly used species. This problem is especially acute for some marine species which have only recently begun to be used for experimental purposes. The provisions therefore present a baseline for the requirements of fish used for experimental purposes and seek to identify major issues for their welfare. More detailed information to support the Appendix A provisions, including requirements for some individual species, will be provided in a Part B now in preparation.