A Hallowe’en protest encouraging people to “avoid farmed salmon like the plague” is set to take place outside the Mowi fish feed factory near Kyleakin on Skye at noon today (Thursday).
The ‘Frankenfish’ protest is being led by the director of Scottish Salmon Watch, Don Staniford, who has described the industry as “morally bankrupt”.
However, a spokesman for Mowi claimed Mr Staniford was “not a credible source of information” about their business.
Mr Staniford, who has been described as the salmon farming industry’s “number one enemy”, said: “There will not be thousands of people, certainly, and it will not be threatening – it is just to raise awareness of the horrors of salmon farming. We understand that people make a living and have jobs in this industry, but from an environmental and public health point of view, we think it’s a morally-bankrupt industry.”
Last week, an article by Rob Edwards published by the investigative news website The Ferret stated that the Scottish Government had “defied concerted pleas by salmon farming multinationals to keep photos of diseased and damaged fish secret”.
In a letter to the Scottish Government directorate Marine Scotland, Ian Roberts, director of communications with Mowi Scotland Ltd, said: “I ask you to consider this position for future freedom of information requests that may create unnecessary confusion or fear about consuming healthy Scottish seafood.”
However, the Ferret report stated: “In December 2018, the government sent a letter to stakeholders promising a ‘move towards active publication’ of fish heath information including photos. Then in March 2019, the government decided that photos would be published with case studies every month.”
Mr Roberts said:” The risk of people turning away from a healthy food such as salmon as a reaction to irresponsible use of photos for the sole purpose of creating fear in the consumer is a risk to health.”
Commenting on the Ferret article, Mr Staniford said: “It is a classic case of a big multinational corporation, in this case, the Norwegian-owned Mowi, trying to market itself as this healthy company producing a healthy, responsibly-sourced product when actually the opposite is true. This is a disease-ridden, unhealthy product and we can see that through the photographs disclosed through the Freedom of Information and the film that’s been done at Mowi salmon farms and other farms.”
Mr Staniford said that, while the industry provided jobs, they were jobs that came “at the expense of a pristine marine environment”.
In response to Mr Staniford’s comments, Mr Roberts said: “Mr Staniford has, for 20 years, misrepresented our business. Mr Staniford has been found guilty of defamation by the Canadian courts, with the judge describing him as ‘demeaning, mocking, disrespectful, insulting, incapable of conceding he might be wrong, and akin to a zealot’.
“That said, we don’t regard Mr. Staniford as a credible source of information about our business.”
Article by Adam Gordon.