by Ben Hope
In Scotland salmon farms have been banned from describing themselves as “sustainable” because of the environmental problems created by their industry.
The Scottish Advertising Standards Agency, according to a UK magazine – British Edition of “Country Living” magazine November 2019 – recently ruled that a salmon farm company cannot use the word “sustainable” to describe its product or operations.
An article by photographer-conservationist Colin Smith said “If people care about environmental impact, there is no farmed salmon you can eat and be content with ——there is no way to make open-cage salmon farming non-environmental impactful.”
In a footnote at the end of the article, Colin Smith said “To be truly sustainable, avoid eating salmon altogether. Choose smaller options such as mackerel, sardines and anchovies.”
Colin Smith said salmon farming had created a huge ecological imbalance with an estimated wild population of Atlantic salmon on the north west coast of Scotland at about 20,000 in contrast to salmon farms in the same area carrying 50-70 million.
An ecological disaster had been created with the main source of the problem being the use of ‘open cages’.
“Fish are kept in suspended nets suspended below a platform in the sea. Feed goes in and everything else – from spent feed to faeces, disease, parasites, chemicals and anti-biotic – flows back into the open water. This impacts indigenous species such as crab, shrimp, prawn and lobster. As a result these farms diminish biodiversity, sucking the life out of ecosystems surrounding them.”
“Parasites spread quickly through these inhumane environments, blocking gills and eating skin (of farmed fish), before moving out to prey on wild fish. Then there’s fish farm slurry which nitrifies the water, increasing algae blooms, removing oxygen and reducing quality.”
Scottish salmon farms emitted around 400,000 tonnes of waste in 2017 – equal to the sewage equivalent of 2.5 million people going into the ocean.
Colin Smith wrote that it took 25 kgs of wild fish, removed from places such as Peru, The Gambia and Angola, to feed just five kilograms of farmed fish in Scotland.
However the Scottish salmon farm industry was experiencing about 20 percent mortality, meaning that for every five fish produced, one was dying. Last year the Scottish salmon farm industry created about 16,000 tonnes of dead fish.
“When you consider that to produce the 16,000 tonnes of dead fish, it took five times of 16000 (80,000 tonnes), it’s like taking 80,000 tonnes of fish out of the ocean just to burn them in incinerators.”
Colin Smith said apart from his advice to not eat salmon, people should google ‘salmon farming’ to draw their own conclusions.
Salmon has long been one of the most popular fish to eat in the UK.