CAMPAIGNERS have held a protest outside the Scottish Parliament blindfolded and gagged with dead fish to highlight the “environmental tragedy” of salmon farming.

The Ocean Rebellion activists staged the action in the pools outside Holyrood, carrying briefcases with “war on wild fish”, “farmed salmon” and “dirty money” emblazoned on them in a bid to highlight the “deliberate blindness” of the Scottish Government.

The group has called for a halt to caged salmon farming in Scotland while making a last-minute plea to SNP conference delegates and leaders to end the “war” on wild fish.

Over the last few years, a number of studies have linked salmon farming practices with outcomes harmful to the environment. 

Last year a delayed report from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) revealed that over 10% of Scottish salmon farms around the coast were assessed as either “very poor”, “poor” or “at risk” because they broke, or threatened to break, environmental rules in 2019. These issues were related to the use of pesticides, pollution and reporting breaches.

And in 2020 Feedback Global, a campaign group for sustainable food supplies, conducted a study where they found that in a single year, it took 460,000 tonnes of wild-caught fish to feed and produce only 179,000 tonnes of Salmon in Scottish farms.

Caitlin Macleod, from Ocean Rebellion, said the Scottish Government’s approach to the coastline and sea life is an “ecological disaster”.

READ MORE: Scottish salmon farming: Near record profit but at what cost?

She added: “It has ignored the Scottish Parliament which formally called for a halt to expansion until the problems are addressed, and at the demand of its cronies in offshore companies, is planning to double the size of the disgusting salmon industry within eight years.

“We need a revolution in Scottish marine politics, with protection and participation replacing Scottish Government-sponsored corporate pillage.”

Ocean Rebellion said Holyrood had demanded that the Scottish Government takes “urgent and meaningful action” to address problems with regulation as well as fish health and environmental issues before the industry can expand. 


The National: The campaigners are calling for an end to caged salmon farmingThe campaigners are calling for an end to caged salmon farming (Image: unknown)

The group claims that whales, dolphins and porpoises are “unlawfully” disturbed by submarine smoke alarms designed to startle seals and that the salmon industry dumps harmful chemicals into Scotland’s marine environment.

Salmon Scotland said the acoustic deterrent devices are not used at any salmon farm in Scotland and the industry “meets the highest environmental standards”.

Ocean Rebellion’s Roc Sandford said: “Scotland is a beautiful, proud country. Our destruction of the environmental heritage on which so many of our jobs depend will ruin this for future generations.

“I don’t want to see more dead zones caused by salmon farming – it’s time to throw these profiteering corporations out of our magnificent waters.”

Salmon Scotland added: “Just this week the Scottish Government recognised the immense contribution of Scottish salmon to the blue economy, and the UN promotes aquaculture as a way to feed a growing global population and meet its sustainable development goals.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government values the role of aquaculture in producing world-renowned healthy and quality seafood, through sustainable food production and a clear commitment to protection of the environment.

“We are delivering a programme of work in response to the regulatory review on aquaculture while the Farmed Fish Health Framework promotes collaboration of various organisations, including Scottish Government, fish vets and regulators to address fish health issues.

“Through the vision for sustainable aquaculture and the regulatory review, we are working to ensure that the sector is both environmentally and economically sustainable – protecting a thriving marine ecosystem for future generations.

“Aquaculture is a significant contributor to our rural economy, providing well paid jobs in some of Scotland’s most fragile communities and will play a major role in our green recovery and transition to net-zero.”