UK: Organic salmon collaboration gets slammed by protest group –

UK: Organic salmon collaboration gets slammed by protest group Published:  28 March, 2006

THE Soil Association, in collaboration with Marine Stewardship Council, supermarket giant Waitrose and fish farmer Aquascot have launched a “partnership to develop certified sustainable sources of fish meal and oil for organic farmed fish diets”. Now the Salmon Farm Protest Group is claiming that ‘there is nothing organic about salmon farming’. In a press release, the group claimed that the term ‘organic’ suggests that fish meal and oil used in food fed to farm fish is sourced from sustainable populations of wild fish; sandeels, pout, capelin, sardines and pilchards and other species at the base of the food chain.

But the exploitation of these small fish for the growing needs of aquaculture has had an enormous and detrimental impact on wild fish species and upon other species such as sea birds that rely on them for sustenance, the group claim.

Bruce Sandison, chairman of the Salmon Farm Protest Group, said: “Until recently, up to 1 million tonnes of sandeels were taken from the North Sea each year for fish meal and oil, depriving enangered species of wild fish, such as cod, of their natural diet. It takes 3 tonnes of wild fish to produce 1 tonne of farm salmon”.

Sandison continued, “The contaminants in the small fish used to produce fish meal and oil from North Sea species end up in farm fish, organic or otherwise, and have earned Scottish farmed salmon the reputation of allegedly being the most PCB and dioxin contaminated salmon in the world.”

As fish farmers search for a more abundant and less contaminated source of fish meal and oil, they are turning to countries like Chile and Peru. But it is unlikely that these fisheries will be sustainable, given that some 6 million tonnes of base-of-the-food-chain species there are being taken there each year to make into fish meal and oil, the group claim. According to the group, Chilean fish farmers (the largest of which is Norwegian-owned Marine Harvest) produce 600,000 tonnes of farmed salmon each year and, based upon industry figures, it requires nearly 10 tonnes of pelagic fish to produce 1 tonne of farmed salmon.

Sandison commented, “There is nothing ‘organic’ about salmon farming. A wild salmon at the age of eighteen months is about six inches in length and still in its natal stream. By that time, a farmed salmon, bog-standard or so-called organic has already been hatched, matched and despatched to the supermarket shelf.”

He concluded, “If the Soil Association want to retain public confidence, must show that they are independent. Personally, I am concerned by the fact that their Scottish Director, Mr Hugh Raven, is also a director of Ardtornish Estate in Argyll; an estate that has had a near-two-decade relationship with fish farming.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.