Once again, salmon farms are the heart of criticism from animal protection organisations. (Photo Credit: Alastair Rae/CC BY-SA 2.0)
Anti-fish farm campaigners propose boycott to defend seals
Tuesday, September 01, 2015, 03:00 (GMT + 9)
A non-government organisation urges consumers and supermarkets to boycott the Scottish salmon after learning that salmon farms from Scotland caused the death of 180 seals over the last two years.
This boycott is being organised by the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA), who is also urging the US Department of Commerce to set a ban on imports of the product, as well as threatening protests, Herald Scotland reported.
“Scottish salmon is dripping with the blood of dozens of seals," warned GAAIA director, Don Staniford.
Meanwhile, salmon farmers argue they sometimes need to kill seals as a last resort to prevent them from attacking nets and eating fish.
Given this issue, the Scottish Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, previously ordered the Scottish Government to name seal-shooting salmon farms in 2012 and 2013. But in 2014 officials stopped publishing the information because of fears that farms could be targeted by protestors.
However, the GAAIA appealed to the Commissioner, who ordered the release of the information.
Shetland was described as the region with the largest death toll, responsible for almost half of all the seals shot by salmon farms in Scotland.
GAAIA’s analysis identified Scottish Sea Farms, which supplies Lochmuir-branded salmon to Marks and Spencer (M&S), as the company that has killed the most seals among the 75 salmon farms officially reported from 2013 to January 2015.
This farming centre was followed by Grieg Seafood Hjaltland, which shot 36, and the Scottish Salmon Company, which killed 29, among others.
GAAIA’s initiative was backed by other animal welfare groups.
“When you buy Scottish salmon you pay for bullets to shoot seals,” claimed John Robins from the Save Our Seals Fund.
For her part, Libby Anderson, policy consultant to OneKind, stated that while some fish farming companies had managed to reduce their seal culls, salmon consumers should refuse to pay for fish reared or trapped at the cost of seals' lives.
Furthermore, Dr Jonathan Wills, a Shetland councillor who runs a local wildlife-watching business, attacked multinational companies for “battery farming salmon”.
In its defense, M&S stressed it had no wish to see any marine life harmed.
“We have led the industry on this issue and invested time and money to avoid this happening,” said a spokeswoman for the retailer.
“The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) supports our approach, and is equally concerned about the welfare of farmed salmon,” M&S’ representative added.
Referring to the issue, Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, pointed out the number of seals shot by salmon farmers was falling year on year, and was fewer than those shot by salmon netters and river fisheries.
“The 80 seals shot by salmon farms in 2014 were from a total population of 148,000,” he stressed.
He added: “The Scottish Government licenses fishermen, netting stations and fish farmers to shoot seals to protect fish in the event that other methods to deter them are unsuccessful. A very small number of seals can be persistent killers, resulting in the slow and painful deaths of thousands of fish.”
Grieg Seafood’s regional director Sigurd Pettersen stated that by autumn 2016, all their sites will be fully protected by anti-predator nets.