Wednesday, October 31, 2007


You don't want farm raised salmon. Sure it's usually sold cheaper than wild salmon, but it isn't good for you for for the salmon either.

Halloween protesters in Scotland were in the streets today to address the problem of farm raised salmon. They were participating in a little covered global week of activity on the issue. The Pure Salmon Campaign sponsors the week of protest activity in countries around the world.

The organisation says that its second annual Global Week of Action, taking place this week, will focus attention on "how current aquaculture practices continue to damage the marine environment and pose other dangers to human health and workers’ safety".

It says that campaign partner groups and allies in Australia, Canada, Chile, Ireland, Norway, Russia, Scotland, and the United States will be raising public awareness and holding events throughout the week.

Events scheduled include a gathering today outside a McDonald’s branch in Oslo city centre and a ‘Trick or Treat’ event in various locations in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

The Pure Salmon Campaign is a global project of the National Environmental Trust. It has partners in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Chile which it says are all working to improve the way salmon is produced.

According to the Salmon Farm Monitor:
Farm salmon are exposed to artificial processes to increase
their growth rate rapidly marketable size. As smolts they are transported to sea in well-boats, or slung in containers beneath a helicopter. According to the Scottish Executive a farm salmon can be distinguished from a wild salmon by deformities: ragged fins, foreshortened head and damage to gill covers.

The life span of a standard farmed salmon ranges from 18 months to 2 years, and up to 2 to 3 years for a so-called organic salmon. By slaughter-time farm fish weigh approximately 6lb and measure upwards of 24 inches in length. Wild salmon of the same age are still in their natal stream and weigh only a few ounces.

Farm salmon lead lazy lives; food delivered to their mouths, little danger of being attacked by predators. The result is that a farm salmon’s flesh can be flabby. A wild
salmon’s flesh is firmer because of its natural life-style. Fat lines on a
farmed salmon are whiter and wider than those on a wild salmon.

During their lives wild salmon swim thousands of miles from the streams that gave them birth to their Greenland feeding grounds. Only the fittest survive this
hazardous journey and return to spawn. Farm salmon remain in cages that can
contain more than 70,000 fish.

Diseases and parasites such as sea-lice and escapes of farmed salmon have damaged wild salmon and sea-trout populations in the West Highlands and Island of Scotland.

According to figures released by the Fisheries Research Services, an arm of the Scottish Executive, during 2005 less than 600 wild sea-trout were caught in the West Highlands. Prior to the advent of factory-salmon farming Loch Maree alone produced
upwards of 1,500 sea-trout each season, whilst other West Highland lochs such as Eilt, Shiel and Stack could each produce upwards of 1,000. There are few fish left in these waters now because ... of the impact of fish farm sea-lice.

In the same area, prior to the arrival of fish farms, rivers such as the Dionard, Laxford, Inver, Kirkaig, Ewe and other West Highland streams accounted for nearly 10,000 salmon and grilse each season. Because of the impact of fish farm sea-lice, fewer than 2,000 are taken today.

Each year hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon escape from their cages. These farmed fish compete with wild salmon for a finite food and spawning resource. Scientific research has shown that in a few generations escaped farm salmon will out compete andreplace wild salmon.

Sea-lice occur naturally in the sea where they are not a problem for wild salmon. Sea lice that have attached themselves to a wild fish die when the host fish enters fresh water. Farmed salmon, however, never enter fresh water. After smolting they are confined in the sea for the whole of their lives. A salmon farm site may hold twenty cages containing more that 1 million fish.

Salmon farm cages act as a magnet for sea lice and they breed there in their billions. Sea lice are free-swimming and move on tidal currents. Therefore, as wild fish pass by the cages they are confronted with clouds of sea lice which then attach themselves to the wild fish. More than 12/15 sea lice can kill a wild fish.

Sea-trout are at greater risk because, unlike salmon, they do not migrate vast distances, but generally remain close to the shore and near to the rivers that gave them birth. As such, they are exposed to more constant sea lice attack, not only from cages at the mouths of their rivers, but also from other salmon farms in the vicinity.

It would be appropriate to refer to these fish factories as sea lice farms, rather
than salmon farms. However, in spite of scientific evidence which shows that sea
lice kill wild fish, the industry and the Scottish Executive refuses to accept
that this. In my view, sea lice from fish farms are a primary cause of the
collapse in wild salmonid populations in the West Highlands and
Islands of Scotland.

Throughout their life, from birth to slaughter, farmed salmon are treated with a range of chemicals to protect them from disease and to make them more attractive to consumers. The flesh of wild salmon is naturally pink, because of the food they eat in the wild. Factory-farmed salmon flesh, however, is muddy grey in colour. Most farm salmon are fed a manufactured colourant in their food to make their flesh colour more appealing to consumers.

Common diseases on Scottish fish farms include Infectious Salmon
Anaemia, Bacterial Kidney Disease and Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis, all of
which can be fatal to caged salmon. Because of the numbers of fish stocked into
each cage, disease spreads rapidly and is as quickly transferred to adjacent
cages in the same sea loch.

Factory-farmed salmon have been identified by scientists as containing potentially harmful levels of PCB’s and dioxins. A recent report advised people to limit the quantity of farmed salmon they ate to no more than four meals a year.

Much of the contamination in farmed salmon comes from the concentrated food fed to these fish. This is sourced from small, base-of-the-food-chain species that have accumulated high levels of contaminants from where the live; sandeels, Norwegian pout and capelin, for instance, from the polluted waters of the North Sea.

These PCB’s and dioxins are thus passed on to farm salmon. Wild salmon may also have levels of PCB’s and dioxins, but because of the wide range of their feeding grounds, these levels are lower than they are in farm salmon.

Industrial fishing also has an adverse impact on other species. Cod, mackerel and herring predate on sandeels, as do wild salmon and sea-trout and a wide range of sea birds. In recent years cod stocks in particular are so depleted than scientists advise a complete ban of commercial fishing for that species. There have been wide-spread breeding failures of sea birds because there is nothing for parent birds to feed to their young.

The small fish are mashed up to provide protein to be fed to farm
animals and farm salmon. Research suggests that it takes three tonnes of these
small fish to produce one tonne of farmed salmon.

"We think it's important for people who eat salmon to know that farmed salmon have higher levels of toxins than wild salmon from the open ocean," said Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs Distinguished Professor Ronald Hites, who led a comprehensive study a couple of years ago.

The following is from

Salmon farm campaigners in Halloween protest
The Halloween-themed protesters gathered in Edinburgh

DRACULA, Frankenstein and other Halloween-themed protesters took to the streets of Edinburgh today to highlight to consumers the "many environmental and social problems" associated with farmed salmon.

The events, part of the Pure Salmon Campaign's second annual Global Week of Action, aim to focus attention on how current fish farming practices are claimed to "damage the marine environment and pose other dangers to human health and workers' safety".

Commenting, director of the Pure Salmon Campaign, Andrea Kavanagh, said: “Contaminants in farmed salmon make this fish a scary choice for consumers. With the toxic brew of chemicals often used in the production of farmed salmon, it is hard to tell if you are getting a trick or a treat.”

Ross Minett, Campaigns Director, Advocates for Animals said: “I doubt that most consumers are yet fully aware of the suffering endured by salmon on these underwater factory farms. Shockingly high mortality levels would not be tolerated in any other form of animal farming. With high stocking densities, overcrowding is commonplace in these forgotten factory farms under the sea. Fish are crammed into underwater pens with little or no concern for their welfare. In these highly intensive conditions the fish can suffer from a shockingly wide range of diseases. They can also suffer from sea lice infestation and skeletal deformities.

“I am sure many people will be astounded that companies which operate salmon farms around the Scottish coast use equipment which can be damaged by seals, a natural resident in our waters. The hundreds of thousands of fish that are allowed to escape each year from such intensive farms can suffer and die as they are not equipped to survive in the wild. Those that do survive can breed with wild salmon and weaken their gene pool. In addition, by allowing seals to damage their nets, these fish farms view seals as a threat to their profits which must be lethally controlled. Thousands of seals are thought to be shot or drowned each year by fish farms and fishermen. We have internationally important populations in our waters and a moral and legal obligation to protect them. Surely if fish farms are not to provide proper barriers to protect their own fish, then they should be forced to do so by the Government.”

The Edinburgh protest began outside the castle at 12.30pm. Campaigners were asked to move on and rallied outside Edinburgh Dungeon at 1pm. They then planned to move to Marks & Spencer on Princes Street and Sainsbury's on Rose Street.

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