March 20th 2024

We are committed to transparency and believe it is important for our suppliers and consumers to have all the facts, so that you can continue enjoy the best salmon in the world.

Well-funded campaign groups are trying to shut down Scotland’s salmon sector, removing one of the most nutritious foods we can eat from supermarket shelves and making thousands of workers in remote communities unemployed.

Unfortunately, these urban-based anti-salmon activists are responsible for spreading disinformation. We are committed to transparency and believe it is important for our suppliers and consumers to have all the facts, so that you can continue enjoy the best salmon in the world.

Are salmon farms responsible for the decline of wild salmon populations?

No. Wild salmon numbers have sadly been in sharp decline for several decades, long before salmon farming started in Scotland. Declines have been recorded across the globe, including on the east coast of Scotland, as well as in England and across Europe, where there have never been any salmon farms. In fact, the recent declines are even steeper on the east coast of Scotland, as well as in England and across Europe, where there have never been any salmon farms. The Scottish Government has identified 13 high level pressures and more than 40 specific pressures facing wild salmon – and the main issues in Scotland are water quality (sewage and agricultural pollution) and habitat loss.

What about sea lice?

“Do we think that sea lice from farmed fish are responsible for the declines that we have seen over the decades in wild fish? No.”

Not our words, but the considered view of Peter Pollard, head of ecology at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) when he gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament in 2020. Naturally occurring sea lice affect wild and farm-raised salmon alike. Salmon farmers have a responsibility to manage sea lice numbers on their farms which they take very seriously. Through investment in a wide range of management approaches, including – for example – freshwater treatments, salmon farmers control levels of lice on their fish to very low levels. They are able to remove sea lice from fish in their care and destroy the lice, which cannot happen with their wild cousins. Our portfolio of tools to manage lice include licenced medicinal treatments, which are all prescribed by a veterinarian. Their use is strictly controlled through environmental licences, issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), which ensures they do not cause harm to the environment.

What are salmon farmers doing about the decline in wild salmon populations?

We recognise that our Scottish salmon farming sector enjoys its strong reputation and success partly due to our nation’s wild salmon heritage. That is why we launched the Wild Fisheries Fund, now in its third year, which is a five-year programme to invest £1.5 million to support wild fisheries through both national and grassroots organisations. This has funded a wide range of local projects addressing habitat issues and infrastructure improvements. Just imagine if anti-salmon campaign groups focused on solutions like this, rather than spending their money attacking our sector.

What does the campaign group ‘WildFish’ advocate for?

The Salmon and Trout Association Limited – now calling itself ‘WildFish’ – is a well-funded but ill-informed pro-fishing pressure group headquartered in Hampshire. It masquerades as a conservation organisation when it is nothing of the sort. It campaigns to make 12,500 people who work in the salmon farming sector in Scotland redundant amid a cost-of-living crisis, destroying livelihoods, decimating rural communities, and taking opportunities away from young Scots. The WildFish website highlights high pollution levels in English rivers as a reason for the wild salmon population crisis in England – and yet when it comes to Scotland, it puts nearly all its efforts into attacking hard-working salmon farmers. We have repeatedly offered to show WildFish the reality of rural Scotland, but it has declined to learn the facts.

Is the campaign against salmon farming having an impact?

No – quite the reverse. Sales of salmon at home and abroad are increasing – and that’s because our fish are one of the healthiest meals to eat. A university analysis found that Scottish salmon is even more nutritious than thought – providing more than 70 per cent of daily vitamin D needs in a single portion. Farm-raised salmon is the most popular fish among UK consumers, making up nearly 30 per cent of all fish bought in the UK. And Scottish salmon is the UK’s top food export, respected globally for its quality and nutritious value.

What is the environmental impact of farmed salmon?

Farm-raised salmon has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any animal protein and is part of the solution to the challenges of food security and a growing population. An independent study by the University of Lancaster for the BBC confirmed that farm-raised Scottish salmon has the lowest carbon footprint of any farm-raised animal, while salmon farmers operating in Scotland made up four of the top ten in a global league table of sustainable food producers. Our farms are also among the most highly regulated in the world, with each farm required to operate to an environmental licence, issued by SEPA. This ensures that the operation of the farm does not result in any significant harm to the environment. Our salmon farmers are committed to the highest animal welfare standards anywhere in the world, and – through our sector’s sustainability charter – our member companies are working to cut their already low carbon footprint even fur.

What does the future hold for Scottish salmon?

With growing demand at home and abroad for Scottish salmon, our sector continues to go from strength to strength. But there is always room for improvement. We must continue to innovate, investing in research and development to remain at the cutting edge of responsible aquaculture. We are working hard to mitigate the climate change challenge, which is affecting all food production across the globe, and our sector will also need continued support from government in the years ahead. But, thanks to the support of British and international consumers in shops and restaurants, our dedicated farmers who work in remote locations all year round, and the rural communities where we are part of the fabric, the extraordinary success story of Scottish salmon is set to continue and thrive.