The farmed cod pioneer behind the No Catch ...Just Cod brand has responded angrily to damning criticism of its organic aquaculture operations in Shetland.
Johnson Seafarms was accused of keeping fish in near permanent artificial light in a C4 documentary and a Daily Mail article. The farm's impact on the marine environment and carbon footprint also came under fire, with the Daily Mail citing government adviser Catherine Fookes in support of its argument.
Johnson Seafarms MD Karol Rzepkowski said he had since spoken to Fookes, who had denied making any negative comments about the farm, which neither she nor the Daily Mail journalist had visited.
"It was a case of dreadful and biased journalism," he said. "We take such pains to develop the best environmental practices up here and to really engage with anyone who wants to come and see us as we are aware others will follow us.
"We are proud of our approach to welfare and the environment. As for the criticism of our lighting, we are a pioneer of cold cathode lighting. It has very low power consumption and aids welfare because it controls maturation and stops the fish becoming aggressive when spawning."
At present the Soil Association says the use of light in the rearing of fish is "not organic" because it is not a "natural process".
However, the Organic Food Federation, which certifies No Catch, and Defra, say it is "organic".
The RSPCA also back the use of lighting, which they argue can reduce early maturation and the concomitant stresses.
Fish without lighting "were compromised", said a spokesman.
Next month, Johnson Seafarms is due to launch No Catch ...Just Sea Trout (an organic line), which will debut in Tesco.
No Catch ...Just Halibut will follow.