Advice of the Office for Risk Assessment & Research on the risks to humans, animals and nature in the fish supply chain

The Office for Risk Assessment & Research (BuRO) carried out an assessment of risks to humans, animals and nature within the fish supply chain. This assessment identifies main public health risks associated with the consumption, processing and preparation of wild-caught and farmed fish, crustaceans and molluscs. It describes also risks to animal welfare, animal health and nature that can emerge at different stages of the fish supply chain.

Fish, crustaceans, molluscs and various fish products are regularly consumed in The Netherlands. The potential hazards affecting consumer health include, for example, allergens, biogenic amines, biotoxins and microorganisms. Chemical substances present in the aquatic environment, such as heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants, can also accumulate in fish, crustaceans and molluscs, and thus be ingested by consumers.

There is scientific evidence that fish and at least the largest crustaceans are sentient and capable of experiencing pain. Considerable risks to animal welfare and health arise at all stages of the fish supply chain; for both wild-caught and farmed animals. In terms of numbers, it concerns millions of organisms.

Fishing and farming activities pose also risks to nature through their detrimental effects on species and their natural environment. These risks arise mainly from overfishing, bycatch and discards, seabed disturbance and introduction of alien species.