Thursday, 8 October 2009


It was announced a few days ago that a major producer of farmed salmon in Scotland was planning to establish large fishfarms in the open seas of the Minch. Up till now, fishfarms have been sited in sealochs around the West Coast of Scotland. The fishfarms would be double the size of the present fishfarms and carry accommodation for its workers. Such units apparently already exist in Norway and Canada.

Whether this is a good idea or not is difficult for me to judge. Salmon farming on an industrial scale carries environmental risks, such as those posed by the toxicity of substances used to treat infestations and infections in the fish; the amount of effluent generated by the fish and the problems of dead and escaped fish. The abovementioned proposals quote a shorebase at Barra, but I cannot imagine that this would generate much employment for these islands. The processing plants, such as existed in Scalpay and Stornoway, have been either closed, mothballed or downgraded - for the simple reason that they are not on the mainland.

I am posting this entry very much as a discussion piece, and welcome considered comments.


  1. There are, apparently, advantages to open water fish cages. The currents carry away some of the effluents so that they do not build up on the immediate sea bed, the fish get to swim in the current so are fitter, and it is claimed that sea lice are less of a problem. That said I still have reservations about the entire process as it is necessary to catch and process many tonnes of other fish to provide food to grow each tonne of salmon. I look forward to seeing comments from people closer to the industry on the pros and cons.

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  3. HB, can't comment on this, as I know nothing about it, but seems that hardly anybody ever considers the environmental and ecological consequences of things like this ...
    I heard something on the telly, not from a reliable source (I think it was an opinion voiced on 'Come Dine with Me' ...!)
    It stated that if we were all to become vegetarian, it would make far more of an impact on global warming than any of the current measures, because animals (reared for food production) produce a huge quantity of greenhouse gases.
    It sounded to me like something that could be true ...
    But do you hear anything about promoting the change ...?
    As someone who routinely eschews the meat aisle, it wouldn't be difficult, for me at least, and for sure, better health would result for all from a vegetarian diet ...
    but no, we'll just go for the quick buck instead ...