The Scottish Salmon farming industry has recently been in the firing line due to concerns regarding the sustainability and poor environmental impact of their fishing practices.
The Scottish salmon industry have released plans to double the number of farms by 2030. With current production levels already at around 200,000 tonnes, environmentalists have claimed that this will prove a disaster for wild fish stock in the European, South American and West African waters as the feed they use contains fish oils, which are taken from wild, not farmed fish stock. Wild fish feed levels are predicted to grow to 770,000 tonnes, which is almost double the current amount. With this planned expansion, the industry will have to take responsibility for the impacts of their sourcing and move towards sustainable methods to avoid a devastating reduction in numbers of wild fish.
Salmon farms also pose a threat to the marine environment surrounding them, as outbreaks of disease and pests caused by the high intensity of farming within cages are passed on to wild species. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has announced that it will no longer restrict the size of their farms (currently 2500 tonnes of fish) if they agree to reduce chemical, faecal and organic waste pollution around the farms.
Salmon Farming is no longer run mainly by small entrepreneurs, with large international corporations now dominating the market. Press and environmentalist pressure are being applied heavily upon those corporations, and on SEPA to ensure that the industry remains sustainable and socially responsible. The scale advantages of larger farms should feed through in lower prices, but we will watch developments with SEPA with interest.