Ocean Rebellion Protest At Holyrood To Highlight ‘Environmental Tragedy’ Of Salmon Industry

Today three performers from Ocean Rebellion Scotland stood in front of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. The sightless eyes of the suited characters were bandaged and their mouths were gagged by dead fish.

The performers were there to highlight the environmental tragedy of Scottish Salmon Farming. The blindfolds represent the deliberate blindness of the Scottish Government, their mouths stuffed with farmed salmon, to the degradation of the Scottish coastal environment and the need to wind down open cage salmon farming. The performers, in pinstripe suits, made a last minute plea to SNP Conference delegates and Scottish ‘leaders’ to end the war on wild fish, used to feed farmed salmon, and to govern FOR life in the Scottish seas.

The blindfolded performers stood in the pools outside the Scottish Parliament, carrying briefcases with WAR ON WILD FISH, FARMED SALMON and DIRTY MONEY emblazoned on the side.

The briefcase messages reference the complicity of the SNP in acts of environmental destruction, their desire to replace the fossil fuel £ with a pink fish £ has led them down the same old path of ‘DIRTY MONEY’. Ocean Rebellion asks Nicola Sturgeon to stop this madness, make Scotland a world leader by backing the environment and the Scottish people, not dubious corporations seeking irresponsible profits.

The Scottish Parliament has demanded that ‘urgent and meaningful action needs to be taken to address regulatory deficiencies as well as fish health and environmental issues before the industry can expand.’ But the Scottish Government’s refusal to act on the Scottish Parliament’s warnings—blindfolding themselves and stuffing fish in parliament’s mouths—has left Scottish Lochs and the people who live beside them at the mercy of greedy foreign corporations like Mowi and Bakkafrost.

Problems caused by open cage salmon farming in Scotland include:

  • Overfishing for salmon feed–Scottish farmed salmon eat as much wild fish as everyone else in the UK–460,000 tonnes a year (Feedback, 2019). This has a knock-on climate impact by releasing staggering amounts of climate-killing Blue Carbon from marine ecosystems into the atmosphere
  • Unlawfully disturbing whales, dolphins and porpoises with agonising ‘submarine smoke alarms’ designed to startle seals
  • Infecting Scotland’s iconic wild salmon with parasite and disease plumes emanating from salmon farms and driving them towards extinction. IUCN has listed salmon as a vulnerable species—the fastest declines worldwide have been in Scotland
  • Medicating our lochs with huge quantities of toxic chemicals including emamectin benzoate, formalin, hydrogen peroxide, synthetic pyrethroids and organochlorines. This is the only industry permitted to dump its pesticides directly into the sea. These kill the larvae of species on which local fishermen depend.
  • RSPCA-endorsed cruelty to farmed salmon–over a quarter of which routinely die before harvest
  • Devastating the livelihoods of countless people in fragile coastal communities who depend on living Scottish Lochs for their jobs
  • Ignoring local communities struggling to save their local marine environment

The Ocean Rebellion performers represent the blank face of Scottish policy-making failure, due to the Scottish government’s capture by vested salmon interests. They appear slick, smooth and businesslike, but they leak blood on the ground, crush fish in their hands and underfoot. They are the real face of both industrial salmon farming and the Scottish regulators—including Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, NatureScot, & Marine Scotland—that ignore the science and, captured by industry, allow salmon farming to swell & bloat, year after year. Their only interest is the money they make from waging a war on wild fish, and they commit ecocide through greed. They will take anything they want from our Lochs while greenwashing their bloody salmon farming business. And when it comes to cleaning up they will nod appreciatively, make all the right noises, tell everyone ‘it’s a serious concern’ but will always manoeuvre behind the scenes with the Scottish Government to make sure nothing changes and this fishy business can continue growing.

Ocean Rebellion demands:

Following the encouraging steps taken by British Columbia and Norway, the Scottish Government must rapidly wind down the sea cage salmon farming industry in Scotland, providing training and investment to generate a just transition for fish farm workers. The costs of business as usual are much too high.

The new policy must have marine health as its only measure of success. It should replace foreign corporate power with West Coast people power. And it should represent the many forms of marine life who actually make the ocean a home.

Ocean Rebellion’s Caitlin MacLeod says:
“The Scottish Government’s approach to our precious coastline and sea-life is an ecological disaster. It has ignored the Scottish Parliament which formally called for a halt to expansion until the problems are addressed, and at the demand of its cronies in off-shore companies, is planning to double the size of the disgusting salmon industry within 8 years. We need a revolution in Scottish marine politics, with protection and participation replacing Scottish Government sponsored corporate pillage.”

Ocean Rebellion’s Sophie Miller adds:
“The world must reduce fishing by 80% – industrial fishers are now fishing to provide salmon farm food, this must end now, they are robbing the food from the mouths of local fishers. Sardine stocks are drastically depleted off the coast of West Africa because of the industrial hunger for farmed fish food, this must stop before corporate greed creates more starvation and unrest.”

Ocean Rebellion’s Roc Sandford says:
“Scotland is a beautiful, proud country. Our destruction of the environmental heritage on which so many of our jobs depend will ruin this for future generations. I don’t want to see more dead zones caused by salmon farming – it’s time to throw these profiteering corporations out of our magnificent waters.”

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