A new mood of militancy among Scottish fish ­producers is being taken further with a vow by the Scottish Salmon Producers&' Organisation to name and shame its critics.
The SSPO is already involved in a dispute with Birds Eye over TV ads that criticise the use of astaxanthin to colour farmed salmon, and has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Now the trade body has announced that its head is staying above the parapet, dividing critics into two groups determined either to undermine or to improve the industry.
Dr John Webster, SSPO scientific adviser, told the Fish Vet Society Spring Scientific Meeting: &"The first group of critics consist of misinformed, negative sensationalists who trawl the internet for negative material on fish farming, such as the Salmon Farm Protest Group. Most of what these people say is deliberately sensational and has little real impact.&"
Dr Webster said that the long-term strategic campaigns of critics such as the RSPCA and the Humane Slaughter Association did have a value. &"Much of what these people have to say focuses on substantive issues. Their approach is constructive, industry is receptive and this co-operation gives rise to ongoing benefits for all concerned.&"
Sid Patten, SSPO chief executive, told Aqua Exchange 2006 that the industry was vigorously addressing the issues it faced. &"Salmon farming is often bedevilled by ill-informed criticism, but the industry is not only willing to prove its viability and sustainability, it is displaying clear examples of this.
&"For example, the Code of Good Practice is a robust, authoritative and modern reflection of good aquaculture practice.
&"With more than 300 main compliance points, it incorporates the latest ­scientific thinking.
&"Misleading comments from industry critics only serve to detract from the real issues that are facing aquaculture and do not reflect the overwhelming majority of good practice in Scotland,&" he said.
Kit Davies