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Crustacean Compassion at the Global Shrimp Forum

In early September, we attended the Global Shrimp Forum 2023 in Utrecht and were delighted to see animal welfare included in the programme for the first time.

The Global Shrimp Forum attracts hundreds of industry stakeholders, from farmers and manufacturers to processors and retailers. On this year’s programme was a series of sessions on animal welfare – the first time that shrimp welfare has been on the forum’s agenda.

Among the topics discussed were the business case for eliminating eyestalk ablation, the need for electrical pre-slaughter stunning, and the launch of a new welfare monitoring tool for shrimp farmers. We were pleased to see Optimar in attendance, who manufacture humane stunning equipment and had their new electrical prawn stunner on display in the exhibition area. Read more on the importance of stunning.

Eyestalk ablation is the removal or destruction of eyestalks in female shrimp or prawns, done to increase egg production. While discussing the elimination of this practice from the food supply chain, Olivier Decamp from Inve Aquaculture and Benchmark explained that evidence shows very little difference in the productivity of ablated and non-ablated females. The latter tended to avoid side effects such as shorter lifespans, erratic behaviour, and hormonal problems.

Also on the panel was Andres Jimenez Zorrilla of Shrimp Welfare Project, which supports primary research into shrimp welfare and provides farmers with free electrical stunners. The organisation has just started new trials into electrical stunning of shrimp and Andres said he hoped the project would address some common misconceptions around topics such as cost, logistics, worker safety and meat quality.

It was great to see the rising awareness and concern for decapod crustacean welfare being discussed by industry stakeholders at such a key event. We look forward to seeing yet more progress made on these important issues.


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