February 7, 2023


UK faces possible lawsuit over shortfall in regulating Scotland's salmon sector




UK environmental campaign group Feedback is threatening the UK government with a lawsuit over its alleged failure to properly regulate Scotland's salmon-farming industry.


In a letter written to the government, Feedback said the UK is required to ensure the nation's farmed-salmon sector does not have a negative impact on the climate and marine ecosystems, and that its failure to properly regulate salmon farming violates that requirement.


Feedback expressed disappointment that no "meaningful policies" to regulate use of wild-caught fish for aquaculture were proposed in a recent Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) issued by the government, despite legislation requiring it to devise policies to ensure that aquaculture does not have a net negative impact on the environment.


Feedback executive director Carina Millstone said the government needs to address environmental issues related to salmon feed, sea lice, fish welfare and disease, waste created by overfeeding and excrement, and salmon farming's impact on wild salmon populations.


"The government needs to step up to the plate and regulate the Scottish farmed salmon industry," Millstone said in a statement. "If it is serious about delivering world-class sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management, it can no longer allow this industry to go unchecked as it gobbles up vast quantities of precious wild fish."


Citing research on sustainable protein production led by University of Cambridge research fellow David Willer, Feedback said the volume of farmed salmon produced in the United Kingdom annually is "equal to the amount of fish consumed by the UK population every year."


"Production of 179,000 tonnes of Scottish Atlantic salmon in 2014 required fish oil derived from 460,000 metric tonnes of wild-caught fish, 76% of which were species edible by humans," it said.


Feedback called on the salmon farming industry to reduce the amount of wild-caught fish in the aquafeed they use, thereby reducing pressure on marine capture fisheries.


"[It is] an inefficient use of nutritious wild fish that has disastrous impacts on food insecure countries, which supply most of the fish used by the global feed industry," it said, calling for "a greater reduction of marine feeds in salmon production to enable them to be used for human consumption."


In response to Feedback's accusations, Salmon Scotland called Feedback a group of "extreme activists".


"Feedback openly campaigns to ban Scottish salmon farming and wants to make 12,500 workers the length and breadth of Scotland unemployed," Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott told SeafoodSource. "They also fail to understand that it is the Scottish, not the UK government and its agencies, that regulate the Scottish salmon sector. The rest of their claims are similarly misinformed."


Scott said UK consumers seek out Scottish salmon as it is nutritious, and said they trust the buying decisions of their fishmonger or local supermarket, which has accreditation and traceability built into purchasing decisions.


"Domestic sales and exports continue to rise and, as far as I am aware, we have never seen a drop in sales resulting from scaremongering," he said.


Scott challenged an accusation made by Feedback that Scottish farmed salmon eat three times their body weight in wild fish, saying Scotland's farmed-salmon industry has an average fish-in, fish-out ratio requiring 1.2 kilogrammes of fish feed to produce one kilogramme of farm-raised salmon.


Scott said the marine ingredients used in the feed for Scottish salmon farms are sourced from producers with sustainability certifications and caught from responsibly managed fisheries. The wild fish used to produce the fishmeal and fish oil used in Scotland come from species for which there is little or no market for human consumption, Scott said, and one third of the marine ingredients used are trimmings from fish processing.


Moreover, every year, more novel feed ingredients are increasingly being incorporated into salmon feed used in Scotland, Scott said.

- SeafoodSource

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