Chefs back campaign to take farmed salmon off restaurant menus

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Chefs including Douglas McMaster Lloyd Morse and Darren Broom back Off the table campaign to take farmed salmon off restaurant menus

Related tags Fishing Seafood Sustainability aquaculture

A campaign calling on restaurants to take farmed salmon off of menus has received the backing of chefs including Silo's Douglas McMaster and The Palmerston's Lloyd Morse.

The 'Off the table' campaign, led by the UK charity WildFish and supported by a number of NGOs across Scotland and the UK, aims to raise awareness of the impacts of Scotland’s intensive open-net salmon farming industry on wild fish and the wider environment, as well as the associated welfare issues such as high mortality and sustainability concerns.

Alongside McMaster, who runs zero-food waste restaurant Silo in London's Hackney, and Morse, co-owner of The Palmerston in Edinburgh, Scotland, other chefs to back the 'Off the table' campaign include Darren Broom of Pythouse Kitchen Garden in Tisbury; and Tom Hunt, author of Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet, ​and owner of Poco Tapas Bar in Bristol.

“I believe in a fairer food system that works in harmony with nature,” says Hunt.

“I’ve come to understand that our actions matter; even as individuals we have the power to create change and to be part of the solution, simply by eating the best food we can.”

The WildFish charity specifically campaigns to protect wild fish and their waters against open-net salmon farms, which it says have directly contributed to diminishing stocks of migrating wild salmon and sea trout in Scotland. 

“This is an intensive farming industry in which a plethora of diseases are causing serious welfare and environmental issues,” says Dr Matt Palmer, farmed salmon campaigns manager at WildFish.

“Fresh seafood should not come at the expense of our planet’s health or animal welfare, which is why we’re calling on chefs and restaurants to take farmed salmon off their menus.”

Key recommendations from the 'Off the table' campaign include encouraging people to eat less fish in general, but also to eat lower trophic level fish (fish and shellfish that are lower down the food chain).

To that end, a big part of the campaign will be encouraging chefs to be creative and develop alternative dishes using more sustainable products - be these seafood based, plant-based or other. 

In the wake of recently-published data from the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) that revealed the salmon deaths on Scotland’s fish farms nearly doubled in 2022 compared to the year before, from 8.5 million to 15 million fish, the charity is also looking to put pressure on the Scottish Government to reconsider its support of the country's aquaculture.

“The clock is ticking on this unsustainable industry,” says Rachel Mulrenan, WildFish Scotland director.

“The loss of 15 million farmed salmon last year reveals an industry struggling to contain the negative welfare and environmental impacts of its operations. The Scottish Government must recognise the damage being done – to our environment, the welfare of wild and farmed fish, and our coastal communities – and take action, before it’s too late.”

Related topics Trends & Reports Casual Dining

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