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Fishermen from the West Highlands and Islands of Scotland, who have for generations relied upon wild salmon and sea trout, have organised the protest because they feel the Scottish Executive has consistently failed them by refusing to act against the pollution and contamination and algae blooms caused by fish farms. Local people reckon that up to 500,000 of the 50 million farmed fish escaped last year. Fish farming is big money and, according to conservationist Bruce Sandison who is co-ordinating the leaflet distribution, there is too much money at stake for the authorities to take any action against the farmers. 'The hidden story of the expansion of factory salmon farming in Scotland is one of deceit, deception, obfuscation and downright dishonesty on the part of successive Scottish administrations,' he says. If you feel strongly about the decline of good salmon and would like to help, contact Bruce Sandison at Hysbackie Tongue, by Lairg, Sutherland IV27 4XJ;

See also in The Observer (

Industrial-scale cod farming poses new threat to recovery of wild salmon (6th October 2002),6903,805555,00.html

'IVF' to save the wild salmon (31st March 2002),6903,676763,00.html

How the King of Fish is being farmed to death (7th January 2001),6903,418954,00.html

Salmon farmers braced for clampdown on toxins (7th January 2001),6903,418947,00.html

'Illegal poison' used on salmon:

Chemical treatment at fish farms is hazard to health and marine life, claims ex-employee (30th April 2000),6903,215802,00.html

Scotland on Sunday, 13th October 2002

United front is lifeline for fish farmers

Sharon Ward (Business Editor)

Includes: "Scotland's leading fish farm operator has called on the sector to pull together to guarantee a healthy future for an industry that provides nearly half the country's food exports. Dr Graeme Dear, managing director of Marine Harvest, said unless the industry can work together, it will fall into a rapid decline. Embattled by regulation to the highest environmental standards and existing alongside the tourist and angling lobby - often the fish farmers' fiercest critics - the fish farming industry is vital for employment and to Scotland's export market. "In some villages half the children at the local school are from families who work in aquaculture. There are 6,500 jobs in farming, or in the supply sector," said Dear. "Farmed salmon accounts for 40% of Scottish food exports. We export more farmed salmon than beef and lamb combined in the Highlands." Dear is responsible for 10 salmon hatcheries, 16 freshwater salmon farms, 45 seawater salmon farms throughout Scotland. He also looks after two processing units in Blar Mhor, Fort William and Marybank in Stornoway.

In 2000 MH produced over 40,000 tonnes of salmon - around 30% of total Scottish production. Half of this went to UK customers, a third to France and the rest mostly to the US. Last month, the workforce topped 650 full-time staff making Marine Harvest the biggest private sector employer in Lochaber and Western Isles.

Scotland's fish farm operators are increasingly pulling together as a single unit to highlight the economic importance of their industry but there is still a long way to go. The way forward, said Dear, has to be constructive coexistence with critics, rather than confrontation. "In the past we haven't been as open as we should have been. This year we held a series of open days at some of our farms and they were phenomenally successful. Many people raised concerns that we were able to satisfy, and in others we at least were able to give our side of the story. I wish we'd done that years ago." Dear said the recent formation of a working group bringing together the operators, anglers and the Scottish Executive is a good move for the industry in an attempt to raise awareness. Aquaculture has been surrounded by controversy since the industry began developing in Scotland in the Sixties. Visual obtrusiveness, environmental pollution, infection of wild species, shellfish poisoning and, most recently, evidence that lice from salmon farms attack wild fish is just some of the complaints against the industry"

Also in Scotland on Sunday (

Charles told minister of fish farm fears (29th September 2002)

Salmon farms: 'a licence to pollute' - watchdog attacked for letting use of chemical use spiral
(24th February 2002)

The Press and Journal, 7th October 2002

Row over fish-farming protest

Mike Merritt

A furious row has broken out over the biggest planned protest against Scotland's controversial 700 million-a-year fish farming industry. Customers at more than 200 supermarkets are to be warned later this month about the alleged health dangers of eating farmed salmon and the damage to the environment. Fish farmers are furious over the nationwide attack which will see customers in 60 cities handed leaflets warning them about the alleged dangers. Farmed salmon is Scotland's biggestfood export. It also employs around 6,500 people in the rural economy. Salmon angling is worth around 70 million in comparison. Scottish Quality Salmon, which represents most of Scotland's fish farmers, is drawing up plans to hit back against the protest. The campaign has been launched by the newly formed Farm Salmon Protest Group.

Sutherland-based writer and angler Bruce Sandison, who is heading the campaign, claimed that 1,500 jobs had been lost in the Highlands because of fish farming - mainly in the angling and related tourism industries. A spokesman for the SQS said: "Fish farmers are already on the defensive over the latest report to hit the industry, claiming sea lice from salmon cages were infecting wild stocks. We are planning what to do about the protest, but we refute the allegations extremely strongly".
See also in the P&J (

Activists sceptical over fish farm jobs (21st September 2002)