Millions of people like farmed salmon

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Salmon farm

Sir, I was greatly offended to read Joanna Blythman’s suggestion that the Scottish salmon farming industry stinks. In a few words, she maligns the hard work of over two thousand people living and working in some of the remotest parts of Scotland, producing what is now one of Britain’s largest food exports. She might not like farmed salmon but millions of consumers do.

Salmon farming has attracted some criticism but much of this is based on misinformation and distortion. It wasn’t that long ago that farmed salmon was the subject of a multi-million dollar campaign in the US aimed at protecting local wild catch fisheries. The negative messages that these campaigns generated still persist today even though the campaigns failed. This was because US consumers liked to eat farmed salmon.

Like all industries, salmon farming does sometimes have its problems but Joanna’s attack from behind the pages of the Grocer was both uncalled for and offensive. Joanna has been invited to visit a salmon farm. She refused.

Dr Martin Jaffa, Callander McDowell


Sir, It is staggering that The Grocer with its long heritage of reporting about the food industry felt that Joanna Blythman’s polemic on Scotland’s farmed salmon industry to promote her latest book was acceptable.

Not only is it misleading, it is inaccurate. Scotland enjoys one of the highest fish health status regimens in the world. The sector is highly regulated and our health management records are published for all to see.

Joanna is one of a tiny band of extreme, self-interested campaigners with a particular bias against modern, large scale food producers. Salmon farming faces similar natural challenges to those of terrestrial farming. Where necessary, we deploy strategies to overcome these and history shows the success of our efforts in this regard. Yet if she cared to look at the records or contact the industry for information, she could establish the facts, for example, that antibiotic use in salmon farming is negligible.

The Scottish farmed salmon industry has never been more profitable, with record market prices around the world. Far from taking the gloss off the Scottish Brand, our industry is a leading player as Scotland’s number one food export with rising demand from premium markets. Where Scottish salmon goes, other Scottish products are now following.

This is why we remain confident in investing for the future and why the Scottish Government supports our ambitions.

Scott Landsburgh, chief executive, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation


Sir, The salmon farming industry in Scotland is a success story and continues to grow and thrive. That is not the impression conveyed by Joanna Blythman’s Second Opinion last week (p21). Perhaps we should not be surprised, as her negative view of farmed salmon is well documented. But it is still deeply disappointing to read an article that suggests we have a growing issue with sea lice issue when the opposite is true and we have a significantly improving picture.

It’s also hugely disappointing to see such glaring inaccuracies in an article written by a specialist food writer who should perhaps check her facts more carefully before launching such a vicious attack. Just to highlight a couple of examples, antibiotics are not, and never have been, used to treat anaemic gill disease. Put simply, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and anaemic gill disease is not a bacterial infection. Also, to suggest salmon were “cooked” during a treatment by a Thermolicer totally misrepresents the situation. The temperature of the water used in a Thermolicer is only 34C, 2C lower than our own body temperature, and the fish are in the water for fewer than 30 seconds.

Sea lice is arguably the most significant issue we have had to address in what is still a relatively new industry, and we have put a great deal of effort into developing solutions. This includes the use of wrasse and other cleaner fish species that are natural predators of sea lice, as well as a range of innovative technologies.

Ms Blythman does a huge disservice to the thousands of people who work in this successful industry and who are committed to sustainably producing and supplying a top quality product in great demand across the globe.

Ben Hadfield, MD, Marine Harvest Scotland


Readers' comments (3)

  • Joanna Blythman writes: "A brief factual point, this letter implies that I have never visited a salmon farm when I have in fact visited several.If salmon farming companies are monitoring my movements, their intelligence is poor."

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  • A couple of fascinating responses which, oddly, seem to add weight and credibility to the original article. I am one of the millions who liked farmed salmon but, then again, I didn't really think about the environmental cost of it. I am certainly thinking now and am concerned. Keep publishing, Joanna.

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  • The Scottish salmon farming industry may be profitable, but at the cost of the environmental damage and antibiotic resistance in humans by use of antibiotics to produce 'food' that humans can eat. Justifying these salmon farms on the basis of monetary gains goes against basic human values and is destroying the future of our planet.

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