Tuesday, 28 July 2009
It is now time for 'seal-safe' farmed salmon
In a recent poll 64% of the UK public would be against farmed salmon if it involved the killing of seals.
Despite this UK salmon farmers shoot hundreds of grey and common seals every year that are said to be a threat to salmon or the sea-cage net.
It is believed that many more seals are killed around the UK by people involved with commercial fishing and salmon farming that pose no danger whatsoever to the profitability of their businesses.
The UK has 40% of the world's population of grey seals (164,000) and 20,000 of the far less common 'common' seals, a population that has seen some drastic declines in recent years. If these numbers appear on paper to be healthy, it is worth remembering that the African lion population has fallen from 150,000-200,000 in the 1980's to a mere 18,000-25,000 today, mostly as a result of conflict with farmers.
Seals are intelligent mammals that spend most of their time in the sea and feed on fish, a bit like dolphins and porpoises, but in the mind of the UK seafood business that's where the similarity ends.
In 1990 the 'dolphin safe' label was introduced by the US Dept. of Commerce and has spread so successfully around the world that it is now almost universally accepted that you make canned tuna as cetacean friendly as possible.
If this can be achieved for a wild-caught pelagic species like tuna then why on earth are we still having to slaughter seals in order to protect salmon that are being farmed in highly controlled sites?
We are killing seals for the same reason that we slaughtered the wolf in the 17th century to protect cattle and sheep, and endangering whole populations of wild animals to put cheaper food on our plates is not a practice that should be tolerated.
We've learnt our lesson with 'dolphin-safe' tuna, now let's have 'seal-safe' farmed salmon.