Leading Article: Clean up the mess of intensive farming at sea, too
Tuesday 23 November 1999
Such farms were meant to provide a salvation for the fragile economy of the Highlands and Islands. Seduced by the prospect of extra jobs, which were never as plentiful as hoped, governments turned a blind eye to the environmental impact of the antibiotics, antiparasitic drugs, anti-foulants and disinfectants required to produce food in such an intensive manner. And no one bothered too much about the huge volumes of ammonia and other waste products released untreated into the sea.
Now, late in the day, Scottish ministers have woken up to the dangers. As the finger is pointed at intensively farmed salmon for the spread of such marine diseases as sea lice, amnesic shellfish poisoning and infectious salmon anaemia, it has become impossible to ignore the issue. New guidance from the Scottish executive rules out new fish farms on the north and east coasts of Scotland, while requiring that expansion elsewhere must demonstrably improve the environment. This is not quite a moratorium on expansion, but it is a welcome start to cleaning up the mess that intensive farming has made of the fishing industry. The rest of the United Kingdom should follow suit, with similar restrictions.
However, the next stage must be to recognise that the whole strategy of pursuing mass production over quality has been a mistake that threatens to besmirch the name of British fish-farming in the same way as BSE has destroyed the image of British beef. Throughout the BSE crisis, Scotland managed to salvage something of its image by promoting its own specialist, disease-free herds. In short, it has traded on its reputation for quality, a tactic that the rest of the industry is belatedly beginning to copy.
Scotland should learn from its land farmers and also lead the way with fast and radical change in its fish-farming methods. As pioneered in Orkney, they must be clean and organic. Otherwise salmon can never be expected to return to the top tables.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Northern Lights in the UK: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Merry Xmas Everybody: Slade tops 'most-streamed' Spotify Christmas tunes of 2014
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever