Legislation on fish research

Please also see the corresponding section in the PREPARE guidelines for planning animal experiments.

European legislation:

EU Directive 2010/63 includes general guidelines for accommodation and care of fish in research. Zebrafish are mentioned specifically as a species which may only be used in procedures where those animals have been bred for use in procedures (Article 10).

This directive replaces EU Directive 86/609/EEC of 24th November 1986 on the approximation of Acts, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes.

The revised version of Appendix A of the European Convention for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (ETS 123) contains species-specific guidelines for a number of species. "Fish" are discussed as one group in a short section. The detailed background document (referred to in the Appendix), produced by the expert working group which developed these guidelines, is unfortunately not in the public domain.

When do fish larvae become old enough to be protected by the legislation? According to the EU Directive, this is when the fish becomes an 'independently feeding larval form'. The time for this has not been defined more exactly in EU or Norwegian legislation or guidance. However, in the case of zebrafish, it is common to set day 5 post fertilisation ("dpf 5"), i.e. an age of 120 hours, as the boundary, based on scientific studies of fish development.  

Norwegian legislation:

The Norwegian Animal Welfare Act (Lov om dyrevelferd) (English translation) took effect on 1 January 2010 and replaced The Norwegian Animal Protection Act No. 73 of 20th December 1974  (Dyrevernloven).

The Norwegian Governmental Report Stortingsmelding nr. 12 (2002-2003) Om dyrehold og dyrevelferd provides the background for the revision of Norway's animal welfare legislation.

The Regulation on the Use of Animals in Experiments (Forskrift om bruk av dyr i forsøk), which is currently only available in Norwegian, came into force on 1 July 2015 and regulates research on fish in a very similar way to the EU Directive 2010/63. Animal research was previously controlled by The Norwegian Regulation relating to experiments in animals (1996-01-15 No.23) (Forskrift om forsøk med dyr), which also described the work of the Norwegian Animal Research Authority (NARA) which was disbanded in 2015.


Acts and Regulations concerning the Care and Use of Fish in Norwegian Research is a report from 2005 that provided an overview and links to all legislations concerning both fish in research and farming in Norway at that time. Some of these links are now outdated.

This page was updated on 14 January 2024

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