salmon farmed industry

Campaigners accuse Scottish farmed salmon industry of ‘greenwashing’ in legal complaint

Anti-fish farm campaigners will submit a legal complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority today alleging “greenwashing” by Scotland’s farmed salmon industry.

The complaint by WildFish Scotland and Coastal Communities Network Scotland follows a report by The Ferret revealing the salmon farming industry has applied for its protected name to be changed from “Scottish farmed salmon” to “Scottish salmon”.

The letter to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – seen by The Ferret – disputes the industry’s claims to be “sustainable” and its move to have the word “farmed” dropped from salmon labelling.

The signatories of the complaint claim the sector is trying to mislead consumers as to the origins and environmental impact of open-net farmed salmon.

However, Salmon Scotland, the trade body for farmed salmon producers, denies these allegations and has accused the campaigners of pulling a “stunt” and attempting to “ban” the industry.

Nearly all salmon produced in Scotland is farmed. It is Britain’s number one food export and sold to over 50 countries around the world, with sales worth £578m last year.

The complaint by WildFish and Coastal Communities Network Scotland (CCN), details the use of the term “sustainable” by Salmon Scotland in its communications, as well as the “environmental, welfare and sustainability” issues which, they argue, “cast doubt” on this claim.

This is an inherently unsustainable industry producing an unsustainable product.

Rachel Mulrenan, WildFish

The letter highlights “the negative impact of parasites and escaped fish from Scottish salmon farms on wild salmon” and the “pollution of the sea by toxic chemicals” used by the industry. 

Other issues raised by the campaigners include the “significant carbon footprint” of salmon farming, and the “increasing use of antibiotics” on farms.

Rachel Mulrenan, Scotland Director at WildFish, said: “From the unsustainable use of wild fish to feed farmed salmon, to the dispersal of toxic chemicals into Scottish sea lochs, to the negative impact on protected species such as wild Atlantic salmon, this is an inherently unsustainable industry producing an unsustainable product.”

John Aitchison, spokesperson for CCN, claimed that “every salmon farm is allowed to discharge all its excrement and pesticides” into the sea. “They all release parasitic sea lice that can threaten wild salmon and sea trout,” he said. “They bring feed ingredients from across the globe and then fly much of their produce to the USA and the Far East. To call any of this behaviour ‘sustainable’ is unacceptable.”

A spokesperson for Salmon Scotland – which claims that 10,000 people are employed by the “wider salmon farming supply chain” – said: “We have been in touch with the CMA who tell us they have yet to receive anything from these groups. This is simply the latest stunt from two anti-salmon organisations that are campaigning to ban the Scottish salmon sector, which would wipe out thousands of jobs, decimate coastal communities and jeopardise sustainable economic growth for Scotland.”

Earlier this week The Ferret reported that Salmon Scotland had applied to have the word “farmed” dropped from salmon packaging.

The move was condemned as “greenwashing” by critics who accused the trade body of trying to “mislead” the public into thinking farmed fish is the same as wild salmon.

Salmon Scotland denied this and said its request is aimed at protecting the industry from inferior products.

Main image: Juan Manuel Núñez Méndez

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