salmon farm tank fishing fish

In Lisbon and Porto recently, I was bemused and depressed by the omnipresence of farmed salmon on menus, unappetisingly plainly baked or fried and served with boiled potatoes and broccoli. How ironic, given Portugal’s reputation for magnificent wild Atlantic seafood, that caged salmon imported from Norway or Scotland is so ubiquitous there.

On mainland Europe, far away from the controversy that surrounds this sordid industry, intensively produced salmon still finds a market by trading on its outdated, romantic image as a noble wild fish from pristine waters.

Yet for many British consumers, farmed salmon is an irredeemably debased product. Despite the industry’s best efforts, details of the sordid backstory of Scottish caged salmon production are well publicised. These include marine pollution, runaway antibiotic usage, pesticide issues, sea lice infestations, and mortalities: at least three out of every 20 salmon die on farms.

In UK supermarkets, caged salmon is the marine equivalent of intensive chicken: ever available but saddled with a poor welfare and environmental image.

Might a move to land-based salmon production improve public perceptions?

Grimsby residents are currently up in arms about the proposal before North East Lincolnshire Council to site 50 salmon tanks on land at Cleethorpes, churning out 5,000 tonnes of fish yearly.

If approved, the proposed development from AquaCultured Seafood Ltd would require approximately 1,000 cubic metres a day each of freshwater and saltwater. From this, up to 1,000 cubic metres of sewage and liquid waste every day would be discharged into the nearby Humber Estuary, even though it is designated as a special area of conservation and a site of special scientific interest.

AquaCultured says this effluent will be treated to a very high standard before discharge. But who would fancy a day out on Cleethorpes beach in water from this brave new world aquaculture venture?

As a retail proposition, the idea of fish reared in ugly, noisy, smelly tanks behind high fences, using recirculating water that’s purified and reused continuously, is an even harder sell than the sea-caged equivalent.

I expect that if it were cheap enough, it would find a market somewhere. Maybe Portugal, but not with aware consumers in the UK.


Have your say

The Grocer wants to hear from you about this article and the topics raised in it. If you would like to submit your opinion to be considered for publication in our letters section, get in touch at