Campaigners demand urgent salmon farm inspections

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Advocacy group SumOfUs warns fish deaths and disease will spike without a crackdown on welfare abuses.

22nd July 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Campaigners are demanding emergency inspections of all Scottish salmon farms after concerns were raised of serious animal welfare abuses.

Advocacy group SumOfUs will deliver a petition of 40,000 signatures to the Scottish Government on Monday stating that salmon farming is “as horrific as battery farming”.

The petition claims millions of fish have been harmed by industrial farming and calls for Marine Scotland to conduct “immediate, unannounced on-the-spot inspections” of all salmon farms in the country to assess the welfare of their fish.

The petition states: “Up and down the coast, intensive farms -- many owned by Norwegian megacorporations who enjoy far laxer standards here than at home -- subject the fish to dirty water, cramped cages, and sea lice which feed on their open wounds.

“Clearly salmon producers can’t be trusted to regulate themselves, but the government still hasn’t cracked down on them.”

SumOfUs campaigner Anna Liberadzki said: “For years, we’ve known that Scottish salmon cultivation is as horrific as battery farming. Recent footage of the terrible conditions on salmon farms shows that the problem is only getting worse.

“As long as the megacorporations who own Scotland’s salmon farms can get away with it, they will allow the fish to suffer, while raking in huge profits for a so-called ‘sustainable’ product. Marine Scotland must step in. The alternative is a summer surge of salmon deaths and disease.”

The petition cites a video showing sick and injured salmon at a fish farm operated by The Scottish Salmon Company at Loch Shieldaig as evidence that current regulations have failed to prevent abuse taking place.

Don Staniford, director of Scottish Salmon Watch, filmed the footage. He said: “Salmon farming is a welfare nightmare. We know from the Scottish Government’s own surveillance that Scotland’s salmon farms are riddled with infectious diseases, pathogens and viruses.

“Unannounced inspections of salmon farms are urgently needed to prevent further mass mortalities and welfare abuse.” 

In October 2018, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing revealed just two unannounced site inspections of fish farms had taken place in the last year.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These claims of widespread welfare abuse are without foundation and ignore that the vast majority of farms operate within the regulatory framework and to the highest standards. Where issues arise, Marine Scotland’s fish health inspectors are responsible for enforcing fish health legislation. They will report any significant case of poor welfare to the veterinarians in the Animal and Plant Health Agency, who are responsible for enforcing welfare legislation and will fully investigate any welfare complaints.

“Scotland’s salmon is world-renowned and the sector is of vital importance to remote rural economies, providing thousands of jobs directly and indirectly, and unfounded allegations regarding poor welfare practice are irresponsible and damaging.

 “We continue to work positively with the aquaculture industry to ensure the highest standards are applied to the maintenance of fish health and welfare. We expect salmon producers to work with us to help deliver sustainable growth of the sector, working within appropriate regulatory frameworks which minimise and address environmental impacts.”