ETHIQUAL Blocks of activity

Block 1. Identifying ethical quality based on behavioural and physiological traits (2.NIFA, 30.UGLA, 3.IFREMER, 52.DD  month 0-36).

We will identify how the fish respond to husbandry, and the variability within a species that determines individual-specific ethical environments. This will be achieved by examining the inter-specific variation in fish reactions to the types of challenge imposed by aquacultural practice. Individually tagged fish of each species will be screened for physiological traits (e.g. metabolic rate and reactivity of HPI axis) and behavioural traits (e.g. activity, response to novelty, space use). Multivariate analysis will be used to identify groups of covarying traits for each species.


Block 2.  Developing smart tagging and monitoring technology for individual-based screening (2.NIFA, 30.UGLA, 3.IFREMER, 51.AQUANET, month 0-18).

Smart implanted tags will be used to collect cumulative records of parameters related to physiological activities such as lactate levels, EMG or blood flow rate, or behavioural activities such as swimming activity and differential mouth pressure associated with feeding.


Block 3. Monitoring ethical indicators (2.NIFA, 30.UGLA, 3.IFREMER, 52.DD  month 19-36).

Ethical indicators will be monitored under experimental conditions for individually tagged fish exposed to specific challenges. Indicators may include food demand, aggression, space use, endocrinological stress indicators, fin condition, body condition and growth rates. Multivariate analysis will be used to integrate these and to obtain an overall index of ethical quality. This will be used for comparison with aesthetic indicators of fish quality, in subsequent studies of effects of different husbandry practices and aquaculture systems, and to identify candidate variables for developing farm friendly templates.


Block 4.  Balancing ethical and flesh quality in farmed fish (2.NIFA, 30.UGLA, 3.IFREMER, 52.DD, month 19-60).

Relationships between ethical quality and the various aspects of flesh quality such as firmness and taste will be explored. Flesh samples collected during block 3 will be used. Husbandry practices and aquaculture systems applying the ethical indicators identified in block 3 will be used in farmed cod, carp and seabass at production scale (using SMEs), applying the ethical indicators to farmed fish of the three species, held in a range of aquaculture systems in relation to various husbandry practices.


Block 5. Identifying genetic basis for individual-specific responses to challenges (2.NIFA, 30.UGLA, 3.IFREMER, month 19-60).

Genetic traits underpinning coping strategies will be sought. We will explore how these can be used to promote ethical quality through selective breeding programmes by seeking genetic traits underpinning the individual strategies (link to project 5.1, block 5 and 6). This will mainly be done in cod and seabass, using material collected during other project activities.


Block 6. Effect of transport on physiology, behaviour and fish flesh of turbot (4.RIVO, 39.ID-Leystad, ,68 FFY)- focus on product quality parameters of carp (67.Carp-Pas, 83.FishF-PL) , month 0-18.

The objective is to identify and evaluate the most appropriate methods for the assessment of the initial baseline state and assess effects of transport (esp. crowding) on physiology, behaviour and fish flesh of turbot. The initial states for the fish species are the baseline levels for ante-mortem physiology and behaviour prior to the start of a pre-slaughter process. Transport will be evaluated with respect to physiology, behaviour and fish flesh. For carp experiments will be performed to set up a protocol for analysis of product quality. Effects of current industrial stunning methods will be assessed with regard to product quality.

The first results will give a standardised protocol and established effects of crowding at transport on physiology, behaviour and flesh quality for turbot. For carp the protocol will be restricted to product quality .The protocols are to be used in block 7 and 8.


Block 7. Optimisation of pre-slaughter with respect to physiology and fish flesh (4 RIVO, 39.ID-Lelystad, 67.Carp-Pas, 68 FFY, 83.FishF-PL, month 19-36).

This will allow us to perform optimisation of pre-slaughter conditions (i.e. transport, crowding and stunning) for turbot with regard to product quality (link to pillar 4) and ante-mortem physiology. For carp the experiments will be restricted to stunning, by applying experimental methods, prior to killing and its effect on product quality. Knowledge on consumer’s response to and attitude towards quality of fish obtained by the application of current pre-slaughter conditions versus optimised pre-slaughter conditions will be obtained by pillar 2 of the SEAFOODplus consortium.


Block 8. Testing the optimised pre-slaughter conditions at the SME and preparation of guidelines (4.RIVO, 39.ID-Leystad, 68.FFY, month 37-46).

The optimised conditions for turbot and carp will be tested at the two SMEs FFY and FisF-PL, taking into account the outcome of the relevant consumer science component performed in pillar 2. For carp the experimental work will be restricted to stunning prior to killing.