Today (29th March) Compassion in World Farming submitted an open letter to the Scottish Parliament signed by nearly 130,000 people. The letter calls on the Scottish Government for a moratorium on Scottish salmon farming, until a number of animal welfare concerns have been addressed by the industry.
Ariane Burgess MSP (Scottish Greens) attended the hand in to show her support and we met with Rachael Hamilton MSP (Scottish Conservatives).
Worrying industry expansion plans
Scotland is the largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon in the UK, and the UK is the third largest producer worldwide. Approximately 38 million fish were reared in 2019, but these numbers are unsustainable and environmentally damaging. Worryingly, the Scottish government supports plans for massive industry expansion by 2030. But while the industry expands, animals pay the price.
Cruel and unsustainable
In 2021 we released the biggest ever exposé into the Scottish salmon industry and subsequent report 'Underwater Cages, Parasites and Dead Fish', which detailed the grim reality for many fish raised in sea cages to produce world-famous Scottish salmon. The footage exposed terrible conditions at five of Scotland’s largest salmon producers, who account for over 96% of the industry.
Crowding salmon creates ideal conditions for diseases and parasites to spread. The fish are effectively ‘eaten alive’ by sea lice which feed on their skin, blood and mucus and many are left with large open wounds. Treatments to try and rid salmon of lice are painful too, creating stress and even kill the salmon. These sentient beings should not be subjected to such awful misery.
The Salmon industry is also environmentally damaging. Salmon are carnivorous and their feed contains wild-caught fish, which results in the overfishing of wild populations and intensifies species decline. Waste from farms can lead to poor water quality and harmful algae blooms. In addition, organic and chemical waste from Scottish salmon farms is changing the chemistry of sediments and killing marine like on the seabed.
Suffering in silence
“Salmon are silently suffering, out of sight, in cruel underwater factory farms across Scotland,” says Sarah Moyes, our Senior Campaign Manager. “And despite this evidence, the Scottish Government are still not addressing these concerns! The British public have made their views clear, with 130,000 signing our open letter. They do not want this awful suffering to continue. Rather than progressing with plans to expand the industry, a moratorium is needed - now.”
Read more about our Rethink Fish campaign.