BREAKING NEWS (7 July 2015):
GAAIA has scored a notable victory with two decisions published today by the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC). In both cases, the SIC has ordered Scottish Ministers to disclose damning seal-killing data in relation to salmon farms by 21 August 2015 (the SIC is required, by law, to give the Ministers at least six weeks to disclose the information).
Read a press release: "VICTORY: Disclosure of Seal-Killing Salmon Farm Data Ordered by 21 August" (7 July 2015)
Read a press release: "Landmark Rulings on Seal-Killing Salmon Farms - Scottish Information Commissioner to publish decisions this afternoon" (7 July 2015)
Read more via: "D Day for Seal-Killing Salmon Farms" (6 July 2015)
Read a press release: "Scottish Salmon's Secret Seal Killers! - FOI refusal prompts call for boycott of farmed salmon" (24 August 2014)
Read GAAIA's request for a review (21 August 2014) following the Scottish Government's refusal to disclose the names of seal killing salmon farms - online here
Scottish Salmon's Seal Killers Named & Shamed!
A ruling published (3 December 2012) by the Scottish Information Commissioner (Decision_193/2012) will finally force the Scottish Government to publish details of which salmon farms have killed seals across Scotland.
The ruling gave a deadline of 10 January 2013 (read in full online here). However, last-minute objections has led to a delay in the publication of the damning information delaying a decision until 31 January 2013 - read the Scottish Information Commissioner's letter explaining the delay online here
The Sunday Herald (13 January 2013) reported:
"GAAIA's Don Staniford said the Scottish Government was "desperately squirming off the hook". It smells "decidedly fishy", he claimed. "It appears illogical and unreasonable that a last-minute complaint by netsmen has any bearing at all in relation to a freedom of information request on salmon farms."
Agnew's U-turn has also been challenged by John Robins, secretary of the Save Our Seals Fund. He found it "extremely difficult" to accept the netters' concerns, as the only details that would be released would be historic and would not identify individuals."
"Over the past week or so, the Commissioner has received a number of emails from people involved in the salmon fishing industry (most notably the Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland) who have expressed serious concerns in relation to Decision_193/2012," wrote the SIC's Head of Enforcement Margaret Keyse in an email (9 January 2013). "The emails have talked about threats, including a death threat, which have already been made against individuals. This is not evidence which was included in the Minsters’ submissions to the Commissioner."
"Given the seriousness of the concerns raised, the Commissioner has taken the unusual step of giving the people who contacted her the opportunity to provide more detail about their concerns, via the Ministers, by 31 January 2013. The Commissioner has asked me to advise you that no steps will be taken to enforce the decision before then, effectively extending the period the Ministers have to comply with the decision. If, by the end of January, no additional submissions are received (and no appeal has been lodged by the Ministers against the decision, or the information has not been disclosed to GAAIA), the Commissioner will take steps to enforce the decision. If additional submissions are received, the Commissioner will consider them in order to determine whether to enforce the decision. The Commissioner is, of course, aware that if she decides not to enforce the decision, the decision not to enforce may be open to judicial review by GAAIA."
Read the letter from the Scottish Information Commissioner (9 January 2013) in full online here
Following the letter, John Robins of Save Our Seals Fund wrote (11 January 2013) to the SIC: "I understand that some people within the salmon netting industry are concerned that if the Government releases details identifying where and when seals are shot this might put those carrying out the shooting at risk of personal harassment or attack. I find it extremely difficult to accept that argument as the Government will only be releasing historic details of where and when shooting has taken place with no identification of those who carried out the shooting."
"What concerns me greatly is that the issue of “threats”, whether real or fictitious, will influence the way Government Ministers respond to your ruling," continued Robins. "When the anti-hunting bill was going through the House of Lords there was a deliberate campaign of misinformation to discredit the anti-hunting lobby." [Read the letter in full online here]
"Government ordered to reveal secret seal shooters" reports The Sunday Herald (2 December 2012).
"In a damning decision to be published tomorrow, the Scottish Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, rejects SNP ministers' arguments for secrecy as "tenuous"," reports Rob Edwards in The Sunday Herald. "She says she is "disappointed" at the Government's failure to provide evidence in support of its claim that public safety would be put at risk. Ministers now have to reveal the number of seals killed by fish-farming companies at individual sites before January 10. The only way to avoid doing so is by appealing to the Court of Session on a point of law."
Read more via The Sunday Herald's " Government ordered to reveal secret seal shooters"
For more background see below
GAAIA & Save Our Seals Fund, 16 September 2012
Scottish Salmon’s Lethal Seal of Disapproval
- 87% of farms fail to install predator exclusion nets
Exclusive figures forced from the Scottish Government under Freedom of Information laws reveal that only 13% of Scottish salmon farms use seal exclusion nets. The 2011/12 survey has just been released by Marine Scotland following an appeal over the refusal of an earlier Freedom of Information request. The survey shows that although 20% of salmon farms have these vital anti-predator nets only 13% of farms use them .
Read the Sunday Times article " Fish Farms in Shooting Seals Row" (16 September 2012)
“These damning figures blow the industry’s claim that seals are only shot as a ‘last resort’ out of the water,” said Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA). “The bloody truth is that 4 out of 5 salmon farms do not even have predator nets and are killing seals unnecessarily. Consumers have blood on their hands when buying Scottish farmed salmon – even RSPCA-certified ‘Freedom Food’ salmon.”
Following Marine Scotland’s refusal to name the companies, GAAIA has now filed an appeal with the Scottish Information Commissioner . GAAIA has forwarded this damning new information to the US Government demanding that imports of Scottish farmed salmon be banned due to a blatant breach of the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.
“When you buy Scottish salmon you pay for bullets to shoot seals,” said John Robins, Secretary to the Save Our Seals Fund. “It is ludicrous and shameful that the Scottish Government is freely issuing licences to allow salmon farmers to kill seals when, by the Governments’ own admission, the vast majority of these floating factory fish farms do not use proper anti-predator nets. When the Scottish Government and RSPCA Freedom Foods claim that seals are only shot as a ‘last resort’ they are lying. They are lying to the public and colluding with the salmon farmers in the killing of seals in Scottish waters. The Scottish Government and RSPCA Freedom Foods should insist that salmon farmers deploy and maintain proper seal exclusion nets.”
Paul Wheelhouse, the new Environment Minister at the Scottish Government, claimed earlier this month: “More than 60 per cent of Scottish farmed salmon now has the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods accreditation.” Despite failing to install predator nets at 87% of farms, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation claims: “More than 90% of Scottish salmon will be farmed to RSPCA Freedom Food welfare standards within the next two years”.
In June, FOI data from the Scottish Government revealed that over 300 seals were killed during 2011 and 2012 (up to April) by Scottish salmon farmers including Marine Harvest, Loch Duart, Scottish Sea Farms, Meridian, Hjaltland Seafarms and The Scottish Salmon Company.
For more information read the ‘Killing Farms’ and ‘Killer Panda’
John Robins, Save Our Seals Fund (SOSF) & Animal Concern: +44 (0)1389-841111 and + 44 (0)7721-605521
Don Staniford, Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA): email@example.com
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 Marine Scotland (a Scottish Government Department) reply of 10 September 2012 to a FOI request by GAAIA for data on the number of predator nets on Scottish salmon farms. Prior to this, information circulated by the Government and given in at least one written answer to a parliamentary question (Government Minister Richard Lochhead on Friday, March 04, 2011) mislead the public by suggesting that 20% of salmon farms actually used predator exclusion nets.
2011/12 Survey - Anti-Predator Nets
A total of 13% of fish farms actively use anti-predator nets and a further 7% have anti-predator nets in storage, making 20% in total (36 out of 175 responses). A number of reasons were offered for not using such nets but the most significant by far at 70% was related either solely or partly to possible impacts on wildlife. It should be noted that properly installed and maintained high-tension seal exclusion nets should not harm seals or other marine mammals. However this requires employing extra trained staff and regular net maintenance and cleaning which costs money and eats into profit margins.
Read the Sunday Times article " Fish Farms in Shooting Seals Row" (16 September 2012)
GAAIA, 28 June 2012
Scotland’s Seal Killers Named & Shamed!
- Ban on ‘Seal Unfriendly’ Farmed Salmon?
The shocking extent of seal killing by salmon farming companies across Scotland can be revealed for the first time (28 June 2012) following a FOI request. According to data supplied by Marine Scotland, over 300 seals were killed during 2011 and 2012 (up to April) by serial killers including Marine Harvest, Loch Duart, Scottish Seafarms (Leroy & Salmar), Meridian (Morpol), Hjaltland Seafarms (Grieg Seafood) and The Scottish Salmon Company.
The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA) and Save Our Seals Fund (SOSF) are now calling on the U.S. Government to ban imports of farmed salmon and for retailers to stop sourcing from ‘seal unfriendly’ Scottish salmon farms.
“Scotland’s seal killers should hang their heads in shame and hang up their guns,” said Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA). “Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco which condone the killing of seals by selling ‘seal-unfriendly’ farmed salmon have blood on the hands.”
John Robins, Secretary of Save Our Seals Fund in Scotland, said: “We have asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to use existing legislation to ban the import of Scottish farmed salmon. I hope the U.S. Government can force Scottish salmon farmers to install seal exclusion nets, something the Scottish Government and the RSPCA have disgracefully failed to do. When you buy Scottish farmed salmon, even RSPCA endorsed Scottish farmed salmon, you pay for bullets to shoot seals."
“Consumers, chefs and retailers should boycott all Scottish farmed salmon from companies who support a shoot to kill policy,” continued Staniford. “It is a sad state of affairs when trigger-happy salmon farmers refuse to pay for predator nets and resort to the rifle as a first not last resort. Scotland’s seals are paying a high price for cheap Scottish farmed salmon.”
Read more via "Scotland’s Seal Killers Named & Shamed!" - online here
Read a letter (28 June) to retailers asking if they source farmed salmon from killing farms - online here
Read correspondence with the U.S. Government calling for a ban on imports of farmed salmon - online here
Read correspondence with the Scottish Government including data on the number of seals killed by Marine Harvest, Loch Duart, Hjaltland Seafarms (Grieg), Meridian (Morpol), The Scottish Salmon Company and Scottish Seafarms - online here
Read an appeal (14 June) to the Scottish Information Commissioner asking for the names of sites where seals have been killed by salmon farmers - online here
Salmon farming is a lethal industry - with hundreds of marine mammals killed by salmon farmers each year!
Read a letter/complaint to the U.S. Department of Commerce on the killing of seals and sea lions by salmon farms and a breach of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act - download online here
Read a follow up letter from Save Our Seals Fund in March 2012 - online here
Please find enclosed below a press release (5th October 2011) from Animal Concern, Save Our Seals Fund and GAAIA and a press release (20th October 2011) from Save Our Seals Fund:
Animal Concern, Save Our Seals Fund & Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture
Farmed Salmon in Firing Line
- Complaint filed under U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act
Concerned citizens in Canada, Chile, Scotland, United Kingdom, USA and Switzerland today filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Commerce against the killing of seals and sea lions by salmon farms relating to a breach of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. The letter to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, is signed by wildlife champions including Paul Watson, Alexandra Morton, Doug Tompkins, Ian McAllister, Mark Carter, Bonny Glambeck, Kurt Beardslee, Juan Carlos Cardenas, Elsa Cabrera, Anissa Reed and Wolfram Heise.
“Retailers, chefs and shoppers buying salmon from farms where seals and sea lions have been shot have blood on their hands,” said Don Staniford, global coordinator for the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA). “By killing marine mammals around the world, the salmon farming industry is shooting itself in the foot.”
“If you buy Scottish salmon you pay for bullets to shoot seals,” said John Robins, of Scottish animal rights group Animal Concern and the environmental charity Save Our Seals Fund. “We are calling on the public to boycott Scottish salmon and for the U.S. Government to ban imports of farmed salmon from ‘seal-unfriendly’ farms. The Scottish Government refuses to act against seal killing salmon farmers – perhaps the U.S. Government will be more decisive.”
The letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce (download in full online here) includes:
“In 2010, U.S. retailer Target announced that it would no longer sell farmed salmon from its stores. Until salmon farmers stop shooting seals and sea lions we urge other retailers to follow Target’s lead. Please don’t allow marine mammals to be used as a target for shooting practice."
"Based on the continued killing of marine mammals, we therefore ask that imports of farmed salmon from those countries and companies sponsoring and sanctioning lethal controls be excluded from the U.S. market. We ask that the U.S. send a strong signal that the killing of marine mammals will no longer be tolerated.”
Save Our Seals Fund, 20th October 2011
Scottish salmon farmers urged to follow lead of their Canadian counterparts.
Marine Harvest, one of the biggest producers of farmed salmon in Canada, has announced plans to protect stock in their Canadian fish cages by surrounding their farms with anti-predator nets. These nets will stop seals and other predators attacking the salmon and eliminate the need to shoot and kill the animals.
This announcement comes only days after an international coalition of animal welfare and marine conservation groups called on the American Government to ban the important of salmon from countries, including Scotland and Canada, where farmers are allowed to kill marine mammals. The U.S Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits the intentional killing of marine mammals in commercial fishing operations, including fish farms.
John Robins of the Scottish charity Save Our Seals Fund which was part of the coalition says; “For decades we have been trying to get Marine Harvest and other companies with salmon farms in Scotland to install exclusion nets to keep seals and other predators away from the salmon. Instead of backing our call the Scottish Government gave the fish farmer’s licenses to shoot nearly 1,300 seals a year. This could be the breakthrough we need. If Scottish fish farmers want to maintain access to the lucrative market in the United States they are going to have to follow the lead of Canadian salmon farmers and give up the cheap option of shooting seals and install and maintain proper anti-predator nets instead. If they can do it in Canada they can do it in Scotland and stop our seas running red with the blood of innocent seals.”
Don Staniford, coordinator for the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture, said:
"Marine Harvest have blood on their hands from the killing of marine mammals around the world. That Marine Harvest in Canada is now investing in new predator nets is due to the threat of a ban on imports of farmed salmon to the lucrative US market. For decades the industry has claimed that the shooting of marine mammals is a 'last resort' yet it is clear that it has been trigger-happy in picking up the gun before picking up the bill for costly predator nets. In the same way as consumers demanded 'dolphin-friendly tuna' we should be demanding salmon that is sourced only from farms which do not kill seals and sea lions. Until the industry stops the slaughter, consumers should boycott 'seal unfriendly' farmed salmon. Sadly, the only way to force change in this lethal industry is to hurt the companies in the pocket."
EDITORS NOTES: John Robins is based near Glasgow and can be contacted on 01389 841111 and 07721-605521
Don Staniford is in Canada at present and best contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
This could have major implications for the Scottish salmon farming industry and stimulate renewed investment and new jobs manufacturing, installing and maintaining predator exclusion nets.
More information on our campaign which brought this about can be found at: http://www.wildsalmonfirst.org/boycott
A quick internet search will show that this decision by Marine Harvest has been well covered in the Canadian media:
"Salmon farm to spare predators with nets" (United Press International, 19th October): http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/10/19/Salmon-farm-to-spare-predators-with-nets/UPI-26321319037106/
"Salmon farm installs netting to limit need to shoot invading animals" (Vancouver Sun/Times Colonist, 19th October): http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Salmon+farm+installs+netting+limit+need+shoot+invading+animals/5572572/story.html
"$500,000 for two nets at farm sites" (The Courier-Islander, 18th October): http://www.vancouversun.com/business/nets+farm+sites/5572084/story.html
"U.S. urged to act over killing of marine mammals: Environmental activists from five countries are asking the U.S to ban imports of salmon from farms where marine mammals are killed" (The Times Colonist, 6th October): http://www.timescolonist.com/business/urged+over+killing+marine+mammals/5511054/story.html