A charity which works to protect wild fish and their waters from open-net salmon farming and river pollution welcomed 80 guests plus a celebrity to an event about the environmental, sustainability and welfare issues associated with salmon farms. 

WildFish organised the event at Stockbridge Town Hall on March 14.

Guests heard from singer and freshwater campaigner Feargal Sharkey and campaign manager Dr Matt Palmer about the environmental impacts of open-net salmon farming.

Dr Palmer, said: “The eye-wateringly high mortality rates and the industry’s increasing reliance on antibiotics speaks volumes – this is an intensive farming industry in which a plethora of diseases are causing serious welfare and environmental issues.

"Fresh seafood should not come at the expense of our planet’s health or animal welfare, which is why we’re calling on chefs and restaurants to take farmed salmon off their menus.”

The campaign is supported locally by The Grosvenor in Stockbridge. The hotel joins a growing group of tastemakers in the area that are turning away from using farmed salmon.

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On average, one in four farmed salmon will not survive the period that they are confined in open-net farms along the Scottish west coast and islands. Recently-published data revealed that the death toll in 2022 was over 16.5 million fish; almost double that of 2021.

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Recent data has shown that wild salmon and sea trout catches in Scottish rivers in 2021 were the lowest since records began in 1952, and in January 2022 the Scottish Government agreed that the wild salmon population was in crisis.

Concerns about intensive open-net salmon farming have grown in recent years around the globe, with increasing numbers of national and state governments banning the industry from its waters. Last November, Washington State became the latest state to move towards banning open-net fish farms, joining California, Oregon and Alaska, as well as Argentina and Denmark.

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in spite of growing evidence of its negative impact on the environment, the Scottish Government continues to support the industry, as it aims to double production in the coming years, from 200,000 tonnes per year, to 300-400,000 tonnes.

More information can be found at wildfish.org.