The Salmon Farm Monitor
‘Northern Climes’, January 2003
“For a salmon to be classified as being of farmed origin,” according to the Scottish executive (SE), “it should exhibit 2 or more of these features: deformed or shortened fins, especially the dorsal and tail fin; deformed or shortened gill covers (may only be on one side); deformed or shortened snout; heavy pigmentation, spots more numerous than are usual on a wild salmon.”
Nearly 2000 forms
containing this information have been sent to river owners by the government’s
Fishery Research Service. This is so that the ever-increasing numbers of
escapee farm salmon (according to SE figures, now approximately 100,000 each
But this isn’t of much use to consumers; most of whom don’t even know they are buying deformed farmed salmon. All they see in supermarkets are the chemically coloured ‘sanitised’ bits; bedecked with spurious industry hype about clean, unpolluted Highland waters and strident claims that some of the products are allegedly ‘organic’.
was changed substantially on Saturday 26th October, following the
outstanding success of the Salmon Farm Protest Group’s (SFPG) action day (www.salmonfarmmonitor.org). More than 15,000 leaflets were dished out in
front of supermarkets in 97
Scottish Quality Salmon (SQS), the industry representative body, lashed itself into lather, condemning the protest as being “malicious and ill-informed”. In a flurry of press releases, they claimed that everything the SFPG said was wrong. The Shetland Salmon Grower’s Association responded in a more responsible fashion. Whilst they agreed most of what the Group claimed was true, they argued that the Group had been highly selective, and, indeed, at times misleading in its use of alleged facts.
However, SQS remained strangely silent about one small
matter: the SFPG’s assertion that the famous ‘Tartan
Quality’ label adorning its members products isn’t worth the paper its printed on. Authority to use the label is given by Food
To be honest, FCS has improved their efficiency, by
50%. They now employ three inspectors, rather than two, to rigorously examine
some 250 farms at least twice a year, and to ‘certify’ an annual production of
approximately 40 million deformed salmon. Perhaps FCS will soon be able to
afford its own office in
As to being
‘independent’, I honesty believe that nothing could be further from the truth.
But don’t take my word for it, listen instead to
SQS/FCS themselves. When the fake salmon farmers hurried to a European
Parliament meeting in
Dear (see Rod McGill, November), boss-man of Dutch-owned Marine Harvest and
At least Graeme Dear put his mouth where his money
was. Not so at the recent ‘Fish Expo’ jamboree in
Finally, how do you think the SE have reacted to scientific evidence, collated by their own fishery scientists, that factory farm sea lice are indeed responsible for the catastrophic decline in West Highland and Island wild salmonid numbers? This is the answer Allan Wilson, SE fishery minister, gave to a question tabled by Richard Lochhead, SNP fisheries spokesman:
“Recent research results suggest a correlation between levels of sea lice on salmon farms and in the local marine environment. Proposals for further research into the distribution and behaviour of sea lice and their impact on wild stock are under consideration.” So that’s all right, isn’t it?
[Since the publication of this piece, I have learned that Food Certification Scotland has established dedicated offices at Findhorn House, Dochfour Business Centre, Dochgarroch, Inverness IV3 8GY. Tel: 01870 286 2860]