The speed of reaction

Fish Farm with fish cartoon

Opinion piece by Nick Joy

I admit that my mind might not be quite on the job at the moment. Coming back from Sicily by car has been quite an experience. Palermo driving is enough to terrify the most sanguine of people and I have seen enough of the world to know. However, we made it.

Now I move on to my son’s wedding at which I am, as usual in such cases, expected to give a speech. Though I am known for talking a lot, I actually hate giving talks and speeches, but I’ll just have to grit my teeth and get through it.

Because of the wedding, I have been much more active on the internet and have used Facebook, which is something I have done little of over the last few years. I am always interested in anything fish-related and get hooked on looking at any new item of interest on fish or fish farming.

Having done this a few times, I suddenly noticed that I was being targeted by the wild fish mob, as several ads appeared and suggested that I was a suitable candidate for their interest. How much would I like to give to their cause? Erm, I don’t think there is a figure low enough! However, I was drawn in as they are clever, thought-through and well-targeted.

I don’t suppose you would be awfully surprised to discover that I wasn’t suckered. So of course I deleted the ad. I was somewhat perturbed by the speed with which the next one from a different but similar organisation came up. This met a similar fate but it shows how coordinated and sophisticated their campaigns are becoming.

I had not encountered quite this level of thoughtfulness from these organisations. Then it occurred to me that it was inevitable. Though there are much fewer young people fishing these days, there are enough for someone to have thought of social media. Add that to the wealth of those who own salmon fishing assets and you have the recipe for a campaign.

However, their targeting must be rather difficult. The salmon fishing fraternity is dwindling and fishing is not perceived terribly well these days, especially since catch and return, a practice that is hard to justify on any grounds.

For many years, the wild salmonid lobby has been saved by the coarse anglers, who are a huge sector of the population in comparison. Not only that but they tend to vote within metropolitan areas, so they are less likely to be attacked by government. I wonder if either faction acknowledges the role of the other?

So the wild salmon campaign has a small sector to aim at. The difficulty for the wild lobby is that they don’t have many folk on their side, just a lot of wealthy ones with spare funds and good connections.

The following day, I was utterly delighted to be hit by a campaign from a fish farm company. I will not name it but it was short with a strong message and as well-targeted as the wild lobby’s messages, if not better. This is a strong contrast to the way things used to be and as we have a huge potential audience, we could perhaps be a bit more daring.

As you all know, I am not associated with any of the fish farming organisations any more, so I don’t know if this has already been thought of. However, a campaign to challenge the myths around salmon farming would be hugely beneficial. People like Martin Jaffa find it hard to access the huge audience we have, yet he has continuously challenged the myths with sound, researched logic. The problem is that he isn’t getting to the people who would listen (I am assuming that the wild lobby is too stubborn and the government too blinkered).

Too often, I hear people who are mildly interested in our industry quoting myths like “dyed salmon”, when these myths are so easily debunked. In this world where trend beats logic, we need to be bold and brave, and use the best weapons we have to talk directly to the people who eat our product. If we do not, then we will find that idiots will be suggesting that – to suggest just one example – fish farts are causing more CO2 emissions than cars and planes.


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Fish Farmer May 2024 cover

The May 2024 issue of Fish Farmer is out now online