Salmon Farming

Why is salmon farming a problem for wild fish?

Science has given us a loud warning that salmon farming is harming wild fish

Currently, poorly run and badly sited open net farms are putting our wild salmon and sea trout at risk from parasites and diseases.


Numbers of wild salmon and sea trout found in Scotland’s rivers have declined by 70% over the past two decades


Wild Atlantic Salmon is on the brink of becoming an endangered species in our lifetime, with global populations of wild Atlantic salmon are estimated to have declined from 8-10 million in the 1970’s to just 3 million fish today

What are we doing to protect wild fish?

Our salmon farming campaign champions a shift to production systems where the salmon farming industry and wild fish can thrive together

Campaign aims

1. Permanent relocation of open cage salmon farms that are close to wild salmon and sea trout rivers, or are on the migration route to the open sea, and thus can reasonably be assumed to have a significant adverse impact on wild salmon and sea trout populations.

2. Ensure that absolute numbers of sea lice parasites on salmon farms are subject to specific statutory regulations and verified by independent unannounced Scottish Government or official regulatory body inspections.

3. Protect local jobs and salmon farming expertise in Scotland by supporting and encouraging a transition to a zero emission (parasites, pollutants and waste) closed containment salmon farming industry by 2025.

4. End the use of fishmeal and fish oil in salmon farming in Scotland where it is derived from capellin, squid, sand eel and other species considered prey for wild Atlantic salmon and is caught in areas on the migration routes and feeding grounds of wild Atlantic Scottish salmon.

Work by our Scottish team has already led to TWO parliamentary inquiries to consider industry reform.

ECCLR Committee Inquiry: Report

REC Committee Inquiry: Report

latest news

Dismay at Scottish Government’s continuing refusal to address the serious environmental issues associated with Scotland’s salmon farming industry

01 September 2021
  28 NGOs and community groups have written to Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon expressing deep dismay at Scottish Government’s continuing refusal to address the serious environmental issues associated with Scotland’s salmon farming industry. In early August the Cabinet Secretary announced a two year “review” of salmon farming regulation, thus delaying any significant tightening […]

Why Environmental Management Plans are doomed to fail

17 June 2021
Why Environmental Management Plans are doomed to fail in protecting wild salmon from sea-lice.  Not only do they fail to apply the precautionary principle, they will not work on their own basis. Following the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy Committee’s Report into salmon farming (published in November 2018), the Scottish Government has been relying (and for the time being […]

What is going on with Environmental Management Plans?

29 April 2021
You can read a copy of the letter in full below. What is going on with Environmental Management Plans (EMPs)? Whilst there is still no indication when the flawed proposals will be adopted by the relevant authorities, it does now appear that the constituent parts on which they depend, including basic goodwill, are already unravelling. […]

Clear support for protecting wild salmon

19 March 2021
83% of those expressing an opinion agreed wild salmon should be protected even if it meant possible job losses for the industry (notes 01). The same poll showed equally strong support for the proposal that salmon farms should not be permitted to dump their waste at sea. 79% of those expressing an opinion backed that […]

Would you eat this?

08 March 2021
Three years ago, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee issued its highly critical report on the environmental impacts of salmon farming, noting in particular the extent of the industry’s unresolved environmental problems and the failure of Scottish Government to regulate it effectively. It emphasised that: In the context of “the planned expansion […]

Sea lice rampant on salmon farms

02 November 2020
Shocking photos show sea lice rampant on salmon farms in Scotland Shocking footage passed to Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland reveals horrendous sea lice parasite problems currently occurring on salmon farms in Argyll & Bute, Skye and the Outer Hebrides. The appalling conditions documented on Vacasay salmon farm on the Isle of Lewis in September […]

Don’t just take our word for it

30 October 2020
The Salmon Interactions Working Group proposals to protect wild salmon and sea trout will not work. But don’t just take our word for it….. The Salmon Interactions Working Group (SIWG), which includes Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS), has proposed a system of adaptive management, through the sampling of sea trout in sea lochs by netting, “to […]

SNH and EA formally notified of threat of environmental damage from escaped farmed salmon

13 October 2020
Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) formally notifies NatureScot (formerly SNH) and the Environment Agency of threat of environmental damage to protected wild salmon SACs following the recent major escape of farmed salmon off the Mull of Kintyre Following the major escape from a salmon farm off the east side of the Mull of Kintyre […]

Not just another escape

01 October 2020
As a moderate late summer storm abated, rumours that one of Mowi’s salmon farms between the Mull of Kintyre and Arran was in trouble were confirmed by a statement from the company: “On August 20, 2020, Mowi’s salmon farm at Carradale North, consisting of 10 circular net pens containing 550,000 salmon (at 4.2kgs), shifted position […]

S&TC leaves the Missing Salmon Alliance

17 July 2020
After discussion and detailed consideration of the tactical approach, the Missing Salmon Alliance has decided to pursue an advocacy course by engaging with the Scottish government with respect to future regulation of the aquaculture sector. Salmon and Trout Conservation (S&TC) has decided to withdraw from the Alliance to pursue an alternative approach. The Missing Salmon Alliance […]

Because of your support we've achieved:

SFR Achievements 1

 An in-depth Scottish Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into the salmon farming industry’s impact on wild fish

SFR Achievements 2

A successful petition calling for stronger Government regulation, which lead to initiation of the inquiry

SFR Achievements 3

Our documentary on Loch Maree had a significant impact on the Committee and on social media

Our work

S&TC on BBC's The One Show

September 2018

S&TC on BBC Scotland's Landward

October 2018

Eaten Alive: The Demise of Loch Maree



S&TC's Loch Maree film is a powerful and graphic illustration of how a poorly sited salmon farm can have a devastating impact on what was previously a prolific and entirely sustainable wild fishery.

Sea trout stocks in Loch Maree collapsed in 1988, one year after the start of salmon farming in Loch Ewe, the sea loch into which Loch Maree drains via the River Ewe.

We are working to restore what was formerly the finest sea trout fishery in Scotland. Together we can encourage reform of the industry, relieving wild fish from fish farming pressure.

Only with your help will places like Loch Maree be filled with a healthy abundance of wild fish once again.

Picture / film credits:
James Merryweather
Gairloch Heritage Museum
NJFF-Hordaland/Gisle Sverdrup (under water sea trout footage)
Alv Arne Lyse (sea trout pictures and farmed salmon)

With thanks to:
Inveran Estate
Wester Ross Area Salmon Fisheries Board
Wester Ross Fisheries Trust
Jane Grant

How can you help?

Be salmon savvy

Start in the supermarket.

Our campaigning has lead to full disclosure of which salmon farms are not keeping their lice under control. To date, no meaningful enforcement action, such as the ordering of culls or immediate reductions in fish-farm biomass, has been taken against serial offenders.

The Scottish Government has a legal duty to protect and conserve wild salmon and sea trout, but this data shows it is failing to rein in the biggest threat to wild salmonids.

Is salmon on your menu?

Help to secure a sustainable future for Scotland’s wild fish

Resources & Documents Archive

We have a range of informative resources to help you understand the issues. Please feel free to download and use (with credit to S&TC).

Our work, lobbying and research is extensive and complex; if you want to dive deeper into the details then please explore our document archive below:

Our written evidence to Scottish Parliamentary Committees' Inquiries into salmon farming.

Our critique of Scottish Government's regulation of sea lice within salmon farms - sent to all heads of delegation within the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO).

We rely on your support to protect wild fish and the places they live.

By donating or joining as a member you will be making a huge contribution to the fight to protect the UK's waters and ensure a sustainable future for wild fish.

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