There are no legislative provisions covering either recreational anglers or commercial fishing at sea.
The welfare of all farmed animals is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Act also contains a duty of care to animals; anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the animal’s welfare needs are met.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 set minimum standards for all farm animals, including farmed fish. These regulations replaced the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 on 1 October 2007. The new regulations are made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and are very similar to the previous regulations.
In addition to the general requirements of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, we are working towards further improvements in fish welfare by other means.
The Council of Europe’s Standing Committee on the welfare of animals kept for farming purposes adopted a recommendation on fish in December 2005. It is now working on species specific appendices.
DEFRA’s research and development programme includes projects on certain aspects of fish welfare, and we will use the findings to support our objective to ensure high standards of fish welfare.