New grant to implement novel feeding strategies on fish farms

Salmon attempting to jump waterfall. Original public domain image from Flickr

The careful follower of the fusanilab knows that the interest of the group does not stop at birds and also extends to many other animals, especially when it comes to improving animal welfare. A group member, Stefan Fischer, currently received a grant from the Vienna Science and Technology Fund to improve animal welfare and the release success of commercial fish farms by implementing novel feeding strategies. In this 7- month project Stefan will work together with Assoc. Prof. Petter Tibblin, from Linnaeus University, Privatdoz. Dr. Sabine Tebbich, from the University of Vienna, and the head of the lab Prof. Leonida Fusani, to experimentally investigate and to raise the awareness of the consequences of different feeding regimes on stress responses in commercially raised fish. Normally commercial aqua-cultures use the logic of “more food equals more profit” which sometimes leads to overfeeding the individuals. However research on different animals, including humans, shows that over-nutrition may have massive negative physiological, behavioural and cognitive consequences. In their own work at the KLIVV, they could show that affluent fish had a reduced cognitive performance, in terms of behavioural flexibility, compared to lean fish. The aim of the project will be (1) to experimentally assess the impact of different feeding regimes on stress physiology and cognition in Atlantic salmon, one of the most important species produced in fish farms, and (2) to transfer the findings to stakeholders of aquaculture in Austria and Sweden to develop new feeding strategies for commercially reared fish. The team believes that this project is an important first step that could lead to massive economic, welfare and societal benefits for an economy that creates several hundred billion dollars a year.

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