Protestors gather today in Edinburgh (Noon at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel) outside a conference promoting "high quality, sustainable salmon". Photos of today's protest will be available from ca. 3pm this afternoon online here
The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) are 'celebrating' 25 years of holding "the French Government's prestigious food quality award - the Label Rouge" with a "tribute to Scotland's top food export".
An all-day conference at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel is followed by a dinner reception at Edinburgh Castle. The First Minister of Scotland was invited as "guest of honour" but turned down the invitation. "The occasion will focus on the international success of Scottish salmon with an audience of Scottish, UK and French political representatives, retailers, media and Masterchefs," said the SSPO in an invitation.
Mark Ruskell MSP for the Scottish Green Party, who earlier this month filed a Parliamentary Motion on 'Concerns Over Label Rouge Salmon Certification', said: "Driving ever more intensive production and failing to properly monitor and regulate pollution levels is putting the industry itself at risk. The rest of the world is starting to wake up to the need to dramatically improve welfare and environmental standards in our fish farms, and this needs to be the priority of both the industry and the Scottish Government. Funding marketing programmes for meaningless ‘quality’ marks with no environmental or animal welfare standards is not the way forward."
Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture said: "Label Rouge Scottish salmon leaves a bad taste in the mouth. This lousy label has gone rogue by accrediting Scottish salmon. Buyer beware of Scottish salmon with a fake tan. Scottish salmon is infested with lice, doused in toxic chemicals and artificial colourings, prescribed antibiotics, caged in cramped factory farms and is dripping in the blood of hundreds of dead seals. Consumers should give Label Rouge the red card and immediately stop buying Scottish salmon."
John Robins of Animal Concern and Save Our Seals Fund said: "Salmon producers should be red in the face with embarrassment. With all the difficulties they are having and the environmental damage they are causing they have nothing to celebrate. I hope those attending the SSPO events in Edinburgh put the salmon farmers on the spot and ask them pertinent questions about the sorry state of the industry. Instead of expanding, salmon farming should be restricted to prevent further environmental damage."
Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming said: "Salmon, creatures that in the wild swim huge distances at sea before migrating back to their home river to breed, should not be confined in cages. The industry has failed to find a way to tackle sea lice without causing stress, injuries and mortality. Its plan to double production by 2030 must be scrapped to avoid increased suffering and environmental damage."
Ewan Kennedy of Save Seil Sound said: "Fish farming is industrialised hypocrisy. These multinationals use the lovely bays and sea lochs of our West coast as a huge dustbin for the disposal of thousands of tonnes of waste including heavy metals and poisons, but they market the product on the basis of the reputation of the wild Scottish salmon, a fish whose survival in the big East coast rivers depends on the government ban on farming there."
Allan Berry - who petitioned the Scottish Parliament in 2000 to hold an independent public inquiry into the adverse environmental effects of sea cage fish farming - said: "Successive Scottish Governments have promoted an industry which discharges huge volumes of untreated waste into the pristine waters of the west coast and islands. Damage caused by the Scottish salmon farming industry includes the virtual extinction of our native sea trout and salmon; widespread epidemic contamination of shellfish by poisonous algal toxins and contamination of the sea bed with a range of the dangerous pesticides. Salmon farming produces the most toxic food you can buy: farmed salmon."
Dr Roderick O'Sullivan, author of "Intensive Finfish Farming in Ireland - A Cause for Concern" published back in 1989, said: "A question every Scot must now finally confront - is the farmed salmon on my plate worth the eradication of all wild salmon and sea-trout from virtually the whole West coast? Is the taste worth the deaths of thousands of seals and seabirds? If you answered yes then please don't let me interrupt your meal; for the rest of us that cost is far too high."
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