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Are salmon stocking densities too high?

Atlantic Salmon Health Politics +3 more

The Scottish salmon industry should consider reducing its stocking densities in order to help to reduce mortality levels, according to a major retailer.

In a submission to the Scottish Parliament's Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) committee, Waitrose asked whether the Scottish sector “should consider uniformly reducing stocking densities to the level of the current organic standard of 10 kgs/m3 [from 15-20kg/m3] in order to test the idea that lower stocking densities may reduce stock mortality”.

The retailer, which sources its salmon from four Scottish producers, added that: “Mortality rates are currently far too high - at around 23% - and reducing this level through better husbandry at lower stocking density should, in theory, result in the farms maintaining harvested volume; a potential win-win for the industry, the environment and fish welfare.”

They also emphasised that the industry should increase its transparency if it wants “a social licence to expand”.

“[The industry] should increase the level of transparency around operations and protocols so that key animal health, welfare and environmental indicators and issues are made more widely available to the public. This would likely act as a counter to the all-out focus on volume of production which, as argued by some, lies at the heart of some of the greatest criticism levelled at the industry,” said the retailer.