Salmon producers hit back over welfare allegations

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation has invited welfare inspectors to check any of its members’ farms, at any time, without notice. The SSPO said it was confident that all sites meet high standards, despite a report by an animal welfare group earlier this week alleging that poor treatment is widespread.

The SSPO said today that farmers are confident that all farm sites are adhering to the high standards of the RSPCA Assured animal welfare programme, and that they are prepared to open their farms at any time to inspectors from RSPCA Assured, the accreditation body for animal welfare in farming.

The critical report, from Compassion in World Farming, included allegations that salmon farming has an adverse impact on farmed and wild fish, and the environment, and also included photography and video footage of dead and injured fish in pens, gathered by activists working undercover.

The report includes allegations of welfare breaches on the part of six large operators. The SSPO argues that least one of the claims in the report was wrong while others were “exaggerated and distorted.”

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the SSPO, said: “We take all allegations about breaches of fish welfare extremely seriously which is why we are taking this step.

“We are also adamant that there is no substance to any of these claims. That is why we are inviting auditors from RSPCA Assured to come to our farms. We are so confident that our farmers maintain exemplary standards of fish health and welfare that they can come at any time to check.”

He pointed out that Scottish salmon farms are routinely audited by RSPCA Assured.

Scott added: “We respect the role that RSPCA Assured plays in keeping our standards high. However, there are some people and groups out there who just want to dismantle the Scottish salmon farming sector and they will make claims, however unfounded, to try to achieve their aims.”