Important legal notice
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Fisheries and Aquaculture
Fisheries and Aquaculture - Towards sustainable development of fishing and aquaculture activities
“Towards the improved welfare of farmed fish through the identification of quantifiable indicators of stress”

The problem

The performance of farmed fish during rearing, and hence the profitability of the industry, can be highly dependent on the general well-being of fish. In sub-optimal conditions, fish can be subject to stress that affects their behaviour and feeding with adverse consequences for growth and health. This raises the need for guidelines for avoiding stress in fish based on a standardised system that identifies and quantifies significant causes of stress.

FASTFISH  Identifying quantifiable indicators of stress in farmed fish


FASTFISH will develop new operational indicators for on-farm assessment and documentation of stress levels and fish welfare in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) farms. The project’s scientific and technical objectives are to:

  • Identify non-invasive indicators to monitor and quantify stress levels
  • Use immunological and physiological methods to validate and quantify the indicators
  • Develop database and expert systems (FAST-TOOL) for assessing and managing stress levels in aquaculture production systems
  • Test and refine protocols and systems through a commercial-site pilot study
  • Identify the market conditions and mechanisms for successful up-take of protocols and systems by the aquaculture industry
  • Undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the potential benefits of the system

Contribution to policy development:

  • Provide a scientific basis for developing farmed-fish welfare policies that underpin a profitable industry
  • Inform policy-makers over a wide range of fish-farm management issues, from site selection and stocking densities to feed quality and diet
  • Underpin environmental policies that aim to limit the use of pharmaceutical products on fish farms

Project deliverables

  • Annual report and newsletter – January 2007/2008
  • Report: validated sensitive behavioural indicators of stress – January 2008
  • Report: procedures for use and quantification of behavioural indicators of stress – January 2008
  • Report: proposals for implementing FAST-TOOL across the EU industry – June 2008
  • Report: evaluation of FAST-TOOL on commercial fish farm – January 2009
  • Report: validated indicators of acute and chronic stress in fish – January 2009
  • Report: evaluation of hatchery-period stress on post-fry performance – January 2009
  • Report: workshop proceedings, European Aquaculture Society conference 2008 – January 2009
  • Final project report, newsletter and policy implementation plan – April 2009


  • Regularly updated project website – June 2006
  • FASTFISH will be carried out in partnership with industry and progress will be reported in the trade press
  • Expert workshop at European Aquaculture Society conference 2008
  • The workshop proceedings and all non-confidential reports will be made available on a CD
  • Significant results will be submitted for publication in international peer-review journals

Technical information

Project acronym: FASTFISH
Project’s official full title: On farm assessment of stress level in fish
Research priority: 1.3. Modernisation and sustainability of fisheries, including aquaculture-based production systems
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 022720
Start date: 1 January 2006
Kick off meeting: February 2006
Completion date: January 2009
European Commission scientific officer: Mário Lopes dos Santos,

Tore S Kristiansen,
Name: Institute of Marine Research
Abbreviated name: IMR
Address: PO Box 1870
5817 Bergen
Country: Norway
Tel: +47 55 23 85 00
Fax: +47 55 23 85 31


Name: Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
Abbreviated name: HCMR
Country: Greece

Name: French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea
Abbreviated name: IFRMER
Country: France

Name: Norwegian School of Veterinary Science
Abbreviated name: NSVS
Country: Norway

Name: University of Crete
Abbreviated name: UOC
Country: Greece

Name: Agriculture Economics Research Institute Wageningen
Abbreviated name: LEI-WUR
Country: The Netherlands