Campaigners at Scottish parliament call for wastewater testing at salmon farming operations to save wild fish

May 08, 2018

Tomorrow (9 May), members of consumer watchdog SumOfUs will deliver 41,630-strong petition

The Scottish government is facing growing pressure to test effluent from salmon farms and processing plants, as thousands of consumers call on them to act to protect the wild salmon population.

Tomorrow, protesters will deliver their petition to Green MSP Mark Ruskell. Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Connectivity, will be grilled by the Scottish Parliament's inquiry into salmon farming (10am start).

Wild Scottish salmon is in decline, due to sea lice and other diseases found in effluent from commercial salmon farming operations. Information obtained via freedom of information by Scottish Salmon Watch shows that neither the Scottish Environment Protection Agency nor the Scottish government routinely tests wastewater from these farms and processing plants for viruses and disease.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency revealed that salmon farming giant Cooke Aquaculture was guilty of causing “gross” pollution in Scotland. The cause of the problem was “untreated overflow from blood water tanks” and “raw effluent” being discharged from their processing plant into Mid Yell Voe, Shetland.

“The companies supplying Scottish salmon to supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and Tesco make millions every year. The appalling conditions in their farms and processing plants are also putting wild fish at risk of disease and infestations like sea lice. As the voices of thousands of SumOfUs members show, people all over the UK want to see Scottish wild salmon protected. The government needs to act – now,” said Sondhya Gupta, Senior Campaigner at SumOfUs.

"Salmon farms use Scotland's pristine marine environment as an open sewer," said Don Staniford, Director of Scottish Salmon Watch. "The public would be outraged if any other industry was allowed to spread chemical wastes, parasitic lice and potentially deadly viruses and pathogens directly into coastal waters. In view of the recent results of positive tests for viruses in effluent water in Canada it is incumbent upon the Scottish Government and SEPA to follow suit."  

SumOfUs began their campaign to the Scottish government after members secured a recent victory on wastewater testing in Canada. A leaked viral video recently showed farmed salmon blood water being pumped into the ocean in Canada where wild salmon spawn. Subsequent tests showed that the blood was infected. After SumOfUs members there took action, the Canadian fisheries minister amended the Fisheries Act to reinstate environmental protections.

View the petition here:

Photo opportunity:

9 May, 9.20am – The petition will be accepted outside the Scottish Parliament by Mark Ruskell MSP, whose parliamentary question to Fergus Ewing MSP in February confirmed that the Scottish government does not test the outflow of fish processing plants for pathogens.   

Spokespeople will be available for comment.


Oliver Courtney: +44 (0) 7815 731 889

Felicity Slater: +44 (0) 7931 565 986

SumOfUs is a global consumer group that campaigns to hold big corporations accountable. Over 10 million people have taken over 50 million actions worldwide with SumOfUs since it launched.