Buyer beware - the next time you're in a supermarket and see the RSPCA Assured logo you can be assured that seals were killed for your 'welfare-friendly' farmed salmon:
Buying RSPCA Assured salmon is sadly a sure-fire way of supporting the killing of seals in Scotland. As John Robins of Save Our Seals Fund wrote in July 2012:
"When you buy Scottish farmed salmon, even RSPCA endorsed Scottish farmed salmon, you pay for bullets to shoot seals."
The Herald newspaper reported in October 2015 that the number of seals killed by salmon farms had risen 20%:
"I am pleased to support those campaigning for an end to seal deaths," said Alison Johnstone, Member of the Scottish Parliament, who joined a protest outside M&S last month. "People buying farmed salmon in Scotland will be appalled to learn that there is no requirement on salmon producers to have nets to deter seals. If those making vast profits from salmon sales aren’t prepared to invest in this preventative measure, they cannot claim that shooting a seal is a last resort. It is a lazy, greedy response that contradicts the image the producers and our supermarkets seek to promote and it has to stop."
To raise the public profile of this shameful issue, the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA) will be organising a protest outside the RSPCA's head office in Horsham, West Sussex, on 10 December (more details available online here).
Given RSPCA Assured's 'shoot-to-kill' policy on salmon farms, the RSPCA should be renamed the Royal Seal Culling Association!
The R$PCA sacrificed protection for profit a long time ago. It is understood that each salmon farm certified under the R$PCA Assured scheme pays several thousand pounds therefore raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds for the R$PCA!
Ker-ching - that's the sounds of the RSPCA's cash register as dozens of Scottish salmon farms have rushed to be certified as 'welfare-friendly' since 2002. In fact, over 70% of Scottish farmed salmon is now certified as "welfare-friendly" via the RSPCA Assured scheme (formerly Freedom Food). Since there were 260 salmon farms in 2014 (the latest government survey available) that could mean over 180 RSPCA Assured salmon farms in Scotland.
The RSPCA admitted on ITV News in October 2015 that they advocate a shoot-to-kill policy:
ITV News also reported in October 2015:
ITV News also reported in October 2015 that the salmon farming industry could well afford to pay for anti-predator nets (rather than bullets):
"The Seal Protection Action Group believes the solutions now exist to end seal shooting and an industry worth an estimated £1 billion needs to embrace and most importantly pay for them."
In fact, Shetland News reported in September 2015 that it cost £40,000 per cage to install 'Eco-Nets':
The price of 'seal-friendly' salmon is estimated at £1 million per salmon farm. For example, Shetland News reported in September 2015 that it cost £40,000 per cage to install 'Eco-Nets':
Shetland News reported in January 2014:
Read more via "Drive to end seal shooting in Shetland"
For more details on the RSPCA's welfare standards for farmed Atlantic salmon (September 2015) please read online here
Here's the relevant sections of the RSPCA's standards sanctioning seal-killing:
In June 2015, the RSPCA made "key changes" but maintained their shoot-to-kill policy on seals:
Download as a PDF online here
The trigger-happy stance of the RSPCA is unsurprising given the make-up of their technical advisory group which includes a who's who of salmon farming's biggest seal killers:
In fact, data obtained via Freedom of Information reveals that nearly 700 seals have been killed by salmon farmers in Scotland since official statistics were first collected in 2011. An exclusive analysis by GAAIA of all the data made available by the Scottish Government (i.e. for the first six months of 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011) reveals that Scottish Seafarms (who exclusively supply Marks & Spencer) are Scotland's worst serial killers with 150 dead seals followed by Grieg Seafood Hjaltland (136 seals killed), the Scottish Salmon Company (128 seals killed) and Marine Harvest (76 seals killed).
During the first six months of 2015, 54 seals have already been killed by salmon farms in Scotland (up from 41 during the same period in 2014). Marine Harvest (15 dead seals), the Scottish Salmon Company (12 dead seals) and Scottish Seafarms (12 dead seals) are the worst offenders during 2015.
Fish Farmer magazine reported in March 2014 that the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) "who confirmed the current 70% estimate also expects that this figure will continue to rise over the coming years."
Bob Waller of RSPCA Assured claimed: “We believe it is because we have clearly shown that farming to RSPCA welfare standards makes good business – as well as good welfare – sense....Success for us, of course, means more animals benefiting from higher welfare standards."
He also claimed that there was "more Freedom Food labelled smoked and fresh salmon available than ever before in UK supermarkets including the Co-operative, Somerfield, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.”
Read more via "RSPCA Assured"
A report by the Food Ethics Council and Heather Pickett - "Farm Animal Welfare: Past, Present and Future" - published in September 2014 claimed:
"One of the scheme’s greatest successes is farmed salmon where over 70% of UK production meets RSPCA welfare standards, having launched as recently as 2002."
Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver has blood on his hands for promoting the RSPCA's seal-unfriendly farmed salmon via adverts for Sainsbury's and Marine Harvest:
RSPCA Assured even promote on their web-site a recipe for baked salmon by Rosie Curtis of Marine Harvest (omitting to mention the fact that Marine Harvest kills seals).
Yet the RSPCA is reluctant to divulge details of which farms are certified via the RSPCA Assured (formerly Freedom Food) scheme. Freedom Food's General Manager Clive Brazier told GAAIA in January 2015:
"Approximately 70 per cent of farmed Scottish Salmon is produced under Freedom Food. You will appreciate that due to data protection, we are unable to provide you with a list of Freedom Food approved salmon members. The number of seals shot on our farms, as a last resort, has significantly reduced over the last seven years and continues to do so year on year. We are unable to disclose the figures as they are submitted to us by our members, in confidence, for the benefit of developing the scheme."
Freedom Food told GAAIA in February 2015 that "the issue of culling seals.....is a welfare dilemma and we share your concerns":
In reply to a letter sent by GAAIA in August 2015, Freedom Food stated in September 2015:
"In your letter you call for a ‘ceasefire’ which suggests that seals are being routinely shot. However, as you know, this is not the case. The RSPCA’s welfare standards only allow seals to be shot as a last resort when all available preventative measures to protect the salmon have been exhausted. If you are suggesting that farms should not be allowed to shoot a seal as a last resort, unfortunately the RSPCA is not currently in a position to make this requirement in its standards."
An email from the RSPCA's acting Chief Executive David Canavan in November 2015 stated:
As of 23 November 2015, the RSPCA have refused to issue a public statement supporting a cease-fire and a meeting with the acting Chief Executive may not take place:
GAAIA wrote to the RSPCA on 23 November 2015 re-iterating the question:
Will the RSPCA finally pledge to stop certifying seal-killing salmon farms?
Download the letter in full as a PDF online here
The RSPCA's shoot-to-kill policy runs counter to public opinion with an opinion poll conducted in October 2015 by Metro reporting 87% of people against the killing of seals:
A petition calling on the RSPCA to stop the killing of seals on salmon farms now has over 2,700 signatures:
Please sign and share online here!
Download blog as a PDF online here
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