Salmon growth puts wild fish stocks at risk

The Scottish farmed salmon industry will require over 300,000 tonnes of wild caught fish every year to fulfil its ambition to double in size by 2030.

The estimate was made by campaign group Feedback which said the industry currently uses roughly the same quantity of wild-caught fish to feed its salmon as is purchased by the entire adult population of the UK in one year.

In a new report, Feedback calculated that to fuel its ambition to double in size by 2030 the Scottish salmon industry will need to source 310,000 tonnes more wild fish per year to make into salmon feed, assuming it continues to use the same proportion of wild fish in its feed ingredients.

Campaigners claimed that unchecked and under-regulated expansion of the Scottish salmon industry would place severe pressure on wild fish stocks, and the ocean ecosystems and human communities they support, with over 90% of global fisheries already overfished or operating at capacity.

Feedback said that while some fisheries sourcing wild fish for salmon feed are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, many are not, or rely on certification by an industry-supported certification scheme, the IFFO Responsible Standard, which certifies fishmeal and fish oil manufacturers, rather than the source fisheries themselves.

It noted that several reviews by the Scottish Parliament have raised concerns about the impact of salmon farming on the Scottish natural environment, including a link to record lows in numbers of wild salmon in Scotland.

Feedback is calling for the Scottish salmon industry to publish full and transparent information about its feed supply chain, including where it is sourcing wild fish, what types of fish it uses, and what proportion of its marine ingredients come from by-catch or trimmings from human edible fish.

“The simple reality is that we cannot have our fish and eat it – feeding limited stocks of wild fish to farmed salmon is neither an efficient nor sustainable way to produce protein,” said Dr Karen Luyckx, head of research at Feedback.

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