Letter to the Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries about the welfare of farmed fish

The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP

Minister of State (Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries)


20 July 2023

Dear Mark,

I am writing to ask you to set out the reasons for the delay in publishing the Animal Welfare Committee's (AWC)  'Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Fish at the Time of Killing 2023' – and to publish it with immediate effect. 

In 2014 the Farm Animal Welfare Committee recommended that the protections under Schedule One of the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations be extended to farmed fish, yet your Government has still not acted.  

As I am sure you are aware, an estimated  77 million fish are farmed and slaughtered each year without proper legal protection, leading to poor protection standards and a lack of proper oversight. And in July 2022, a roundtable hosted by Lord Trees warned "there is an anomaly in that fish are not provided with the same levels of legal welfare protection as terrestrial farmed animals."  AWC's report will help increase understanding of the steps that are required to advance the welfare of farmed fish.

On the 10th of March, in response to a written parliamentary question, you promised to "study its recommendations carefully in the coming months to determine next steps" yet there has been no further progress. Nor has DEFRA provided a timeline for publication. The AWC's report is essential in terms of allowing for parliamentary scrutiny of the case for legislative change and to facilitate holding the Government to account on updating the legislation.  

Your most recent response to a written question here make a mockery of the process and I am writing to ask you to stop obfuscating and delaying – my constituents and I would like to know why the report hasn’t been published yet and for you to give an honest answer about when it will be.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

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