This ask report considers interventions to aid fish used for fish stocking and bait.
Fish stocking is the practice of raising fish to be put into wild areas, such as rivers, to supplement the natural population. Baitfish are those caught to be used as bait for other fish. These two practices are commonly neglected within the animal ethics movement. However, the number of animals these two industries affect is potentially comparable to or even greater than the number of animals affected by other animal-based industries that we have considered in previous research. Furthermore, we have identified fish as one of our priority animals. Our speculative estimates suggest that a successful intervention for baitfish could save ~25 welfare points per animal, and for fish stocking could save ~23 welfare points per animal.
However, there seem to be many weaknesses holding this intervention back. For baitfish, we argue that it is likely that government intervention would be required to reach a significant scale, which would have very high costs. Counterfactual replaceability also seems to be an issue, as fish stocking seems to be already projected to get firmer regulations, and for baitfish in many western countries, strict regulations already apply. These industries also seem to be declining, and thus fewer animals are being produced – this could be a continuing trend.
Our preliminary research suggests that this intervention is somewhat promising, and we expect it to fall in the middle of the interventions we have considered. However, we believe that it is currently better to focus on issues where the population of animals affected is rising, such as with dissolved oxygen levels for fish.
This report considers why we believe stocking and baitfish interventions are middling in promise, and also considers the crucial considerations involved.
Our priority ask reports focus on the particular improvements or changes that can be “asked” of corporations, governments, or individuals. Going cage free, making dietary changes, regulating slaughter practices, and many other asks all serve as examples here. They are compared based on the strength of the idea (including the evidence base and estimated cost-effectiveness), limiting factors, execution difficulty, and externalities. All of these factors together could begin to suggest which asks might be the most effective when combined with a priority animal, country, and approach.
Note that these ask reports are short summaries of longer unpublished reports. Even if an ask looks promising, it will not necessarily end up being a promising intervention for a new charity once paired with other elements and cross-compared to the other strongest possible interventions; its promise at this stage simply suggests that the ask merits further and deeper investigation from our team. You can see details of our full research process here.
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