Certified Humane venturing into seafood certification with planned salmon welfare standard

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Washington D.C., U.S.A.-based Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) – a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of farm animals raised for food production – is launching its Certified Humane credential specifically for farmed salmon.

The certification scheme, which is the organization's first standard it has developed for fish or seafood, will initially be targeted at Chilean producers, according to Humane Farm Animal Care Global Programs Director Luiz Mazzon.

“The animal welfare standard that we will soon launch is for farmed Atlantic salmon; therefore, it is focused in Chile – the only country in the [Latin American] region with this kind of production,” Mazzon told SeafoodSource. “Other salmon-producing countries such as Canada or Australia can also apply for certification if they wish."

The official launch of the certification will occur during the Aquasur 2024 international conference, taking place 19 to 21 March in Puerto Montt, Chile. The conference is billed as the largest aquaculture trade fair in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to HFAC, the main objectives of the Certified Humane program are to improve the lives of animals in the food production industry, make the public and farm producers aware of the existence of animal welfare best practices, help producers adopt production practices that consider greater animal welfare, and achieve maximum credibility in animal welfare standards, as well as inspection and certification processes.

Criteria that farms need to meet to attain the certification include guaranteeing their animals can express their natural behaviors and are fed a high-quality diet that excludes the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics or growth enhancers. Those responsible for farm operations must also undergo animal welfare training.

According to Mazzon, the work to bring about this new certification began in 2022. Since Chile is the second-largest salmon producer globally, behind Norway, and exports to large markets such as the U.S., where many consumers demand guarantees of humane animal treatment, HFAC saw an opportunity in Chile to introduce a renowned animal welfare certification into the salmon industry. 

HFAC began its work by studying salmon aquaculture in Scotland, which it called "a world reference for salmon welfare certification." It then launched a pilot project in collaboration with Cermaq Chile in 2023, learning about critical welfare points for Atlantic salmon at the company’s fish farms and seawater grow-out centers in the Magallanes and Los Lagos regions.

HFAC adapted its existing guidelines for land animals when considering salmon welfare, including farm infrastructure, pen density, and water quality, as well as ... 

Photo courtesy of DFLC Prints

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