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SUSTAINABILITY LIBRARY 2022 Policies Policy: Fish health and fish welfare

Policy: Fish health and fish welfare

Fish health and fish welfare policy

Owner/approver: COO Farming

Valid from: 2022-03-29



Lerøy works continuously to adapt all parts of production in order to ensure optimal fish welfare. Keeping fish in cages entails responsibility for ensuring that the fish have the best possible conditions. As part of our ongoing improvement measures, we make use of several international standards relating to fish welfare and biosafety.

Valid for

This policy applies to all the Group's farming operations.


Animal welfare: Quality of life perceived by the animal itself.

Welfare indicator: An indirect measurement of animal welfare.

Cleaner fish: Wild-caught or farmed species in the Labridae family or farmed wrasse (Cyclopterus lumpus) used for biological delousing.

Biological delousing: Combating lice in marine production of salmon and trout using fish species that eat lice.

Framework and principles

We make use of procedures as governance tools for production. These procedures help us standardise the processes to which the fish are subjected, and they are updated as soon as we obtain new knowledge that has to be taken into account. As such, the entire organisation has rapid and efficient access to new knowledge.  The following elements are key to our work on fish welfare:

  • Water quality and volume shall be adapted to the requirements for fish at different life stages and for different species.
  • Nutrition shall be customised to fish species and life stages.
  • The cleaner fish shall have a good habitat, allowing for natural behaviour.
  • We also strive to avoid the use of more cleaner fish than deemed necessary to maintain good control of lice.
  • Antibiotics shall not be used to promote growth.
  • Breeding shall focus on producing robust fish with increased resistance to different infectious factors.
  • Employees who work with fish shall have sufficient competencies in order to safeguard good fish welfare.
  • Moribund and weak fish shall be removed from the production units as quickly as possible and put down in an appropriate manner.
  • Active measures are required to prevent infection in our facilities or transfer of infection to other facilities.
  • All fish shall be vaccinated as appropriate for the areas where they are to be released.
  • At all facilities, authorised fish health personnel shall regularly monitor the fish to check on health status and to take immediate action when necessary.
  • All devices and equipment shall be designed in a way to ensure good fish welfare.
  • All slaughtering facilities we utilise make use of a blow to the head or shock, followed by cutting, as the method of slaughter. This process is also monitored manually as an extra control.
  • CO2 is not used as a slaughter method in any of our facilities.
  • As support to help us achieve our goals, we make active use of action plans at all levels in the value chain, and submit regular status reports on established KPIs.


Careful handling:

Lerøy takes all efforts possible to minimise handling of fish. Stress and impact on the outer barriers for the fish will most likely reduce how resistant the fish are to disease. We therefore focus strongly on measures to reduce risk whenever we have to handle the fish, such as controlling changes in pressure and temperature and the amount of time and the extent to which fish are in crowded conditions. Minimising the amount of handling results in improved fish welfare and fish health, and is a key goal for the company.


Welfare indicators:

Systematisation and grading of different welfare criteria are carried out in accordance with the guidelines in the following manual: “Velferdsindikatorer for oppdrettslaks: Hvordan vurdere og dokumentere fiskevelferd” (Welfare indicators for farmed salmon: How to assess and document fish welfare). This publication is the end product of the “FISHWELL” project financed by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF) and conducted by Nofima.

The welfare indicators registered daily are temperature, oxygen, growth, density and category for cause of death. The welfare indicators we measure at regular intervals are lice, gases, salinity, visibility, current, vaccine side-effects, outer blemishes, cataracts, gill status, algae, jellyfish, agents and sedimentation under the facility.

The different welfare indicators have provided us with the opportunity to objectively measure and compare the mutual implications of the different parameters and what they indicate about overall fish welfare. This allows us to make interventions in production in order to prevent factors that impair fish welfare.

Systematisation of welfare parameters for all organisations will provide a stronger basis on which to compare different production methods. Machine learning and increased opportunities for analysis of large volumes of data in a short time could possibly represent a positive move towards identifying better solutions for improved fish health and fish welfare.

Roles and responsibilities

  • All employees who work with live fish at Lerøy are responsible for ensuring good fish welfare. Fish health personnel are responsible for ensuring that all employees have the right focus and necessary training so as to provide for good fish welfare. Production employees are responsible for daily execution and for ensuring that the decisions made are based upon correct values.

Policy ownership and implementation

  • The management of the various departments is responsible for policy implementation and updates.
  • The policy has been approved by the Corporate Management Group, presented to the Audit Committee and approved by  the Board of Directors
  • The policy is approved by Bjarne Reinert, COO Farming.