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I have always been a fanatic about things that other people think mad. Imagine living in the North West of Scotland most of your life and being a cricket fan. Mad, completely mad! I can’t deny it but the thing is that I am a fan of more than one thing and my obsession with fish is stronger than that of cricket. I can’t say that my love of cricket has been beneficial to me in any other way than that it lifts my heart to watch the skill and dedication of those who play it. I enjoy the tactics and love discussing with friends who will play, who will win and what the best tactics are. It is a passion that makes each day pass faster and my heart beat a little faster. For this I thank all those who play and who I am lucky enough to have watched. I like to think my love of cricket is a positive thing but there are those {my wife!!} who perhaps might benefit if I wasn’t so passionate.

I have farmed salmon for over 30 years, perhaps too long – but I still love it. I have seen good times and bad times with practices changing, often for the better. It has been a rollercoaster ride full of good people trying hard in a climate and environment that is often hostile. The salmon have always been beautiful, difficult to rear and prone to do the thing that frustrates you most. Through it all these wonderful fish have mostly thrived but always paid for the mistakes I have made or the predictions I have got wrong. It is the way of farming. Whether it is pigs, chickens, cows or fish, the animal always pays when we get it wrong.

Since the mid-90s there has been a new phenomenon, a small number of highly vociferous and active fanatics who believe that any salmon farming is wrong.

This does not really extend to any other form of fish farming. Trout, tuna, sole, cod and many more are not attacked – but salmon farming is.

I thought it was about time that I put down some notes on how these people operate, why they do what they do, some of the anomalies and, finally, why some of them attack Loch Duart.

Firstly I don’t intend to give them any oxygen by quoting them or using their names. There are a number and they all use the same tactics. They cloak themselves in environmentalism but look deep into what they say and you find hatred and disrespect for others and their plans, beliefs and morality. It is a sad use of the word fanatic because I believe that most fans are a positive influence on the world. Most people want to be part of something, build, create, work together and encourage but there are those who love to stop, distort and destroy. I once said in an environmental forum how it would be for those who lived this way; imagine on your death bed saying “See how wonderful it was. I stopped so many things and made so many people’s lives difficult and unpleasant!” I cannot say that I want that as my epitaph. I want to enthuse, create, build and help to keep jobs, people and livelihoods in the rural environment. I want to try to find better ways to grow salmon better and find people who are as mad as me to join our team.

So let’s deal with some of the issues that are raised by those who wish to damage us and all salmon farming. Why only salmon you have to keep asking?

Medicines for sea lice treatment are at one of the areas they use and they write to our customers all over the world but what they don’t know is so do we. We publish the total amount of medicines we use to our customers every year so that they can judge us. For the last few years the amount of medicines we use would not treat one adult for one headache per year. In other words, we have used less medicines per 80 kg {equal to the average human) than would treat that weight for one headache per year of production. The numbers are extremely small but we would still like to find a way to do without any medicines. We have spent a considerable amount of money researching new ways to get rid of sea lice and we will in the long term. Please note the fanatic tactic on this subject is to quote a customer’s website out of context and then use this as though we had said it and thus cannot be trusted.

Loch Duart has not used antibiotics in its existence, does not use antifoulant on its nets but we WILL ALWAYS treat our fish if they are sick. ALWAYS! We regard this as intrinsic to growing any animal and believe that welfare is a serious moral imperative. If we ever use antibiotics then we will tell our customers and let them choose but we haven’t to date in 14 years and this should tell you something about the way we farm.

Actually when this is said and done, the rest of the issues pale. In general they allude to damage without any clear evidence or local knowledge. It is inferred that there is environmental damage without actually showing any proof. There is a continual drip of things that will happen if farming continues. However our farms (sea sites?) have been in use since 1976, obviously not all in our tenure but this more than challenges this insinuation, as there are still the same number of prawn, creel and lobster boats in the area. Little has changed except that the offshore fisheries have declined.

I could go on about other comments but it continues in this vein generally. What has become obvious is that it is more than about fish farming. It is very specifically about salmon for these people and notably about certain forms of salmon farming. In Alaska primarily, there are farms that rear small pacific salmon in the mouths of big rivers, they are fed the same feed as farmed salmon and grown using the same equipment then they are released into the wild to eat whatever they choose and be eaten by whatever chooses to. The fanatics who don’t like salmon farming, never talk about these places, yet the releases are numbered in billions. Yes, I said billions. More salmon is released from farms in Alaska each year than is farmed in the whole world yet these people don’t mention it. Why? In general when something doesn’t make sense, follow the money. When you follow it, it becomes very interesting. If you want to know more, read Vivian Krause’s work (links below). She had to know and found out. The connections are not very surprising when you find them.

We don’t engage with those who are not willing to listen or discuss. We have a policy of open farm for open minds and have had many critics around our farm. Some have been swayed by our argument, some have helped us find new solutions, some have shifted position but still disagree with us but the associations have all been positive. The easiest way to tell the difference between those who reason and are reasonable is whether they see shades of bad or all bad. Those who class us with any farm anywhere are not interested in things getting better but just in damaging and acting maliciously. There are few but some are very vocal. They ignore our year fallow and any other initiative that we have taken and simply focus on anything bad that they can find. It is not a life I would choose.

Loch Duart has to accept that its move to Canada is behind a lot of the current attacks. Our intention to farm where no farms currently exist in the manner we have followed in Scotland but with one major significant difference has aroused some people’s anger. The significant difference is that we are the first there. There are no sea lice and fish have been on the site for over 4 years. There are no other farms and the separation distances between generations are large. We intend to make sure that these farms become a model of how salmon farming can be done. Oh, it won’t be easy and we will make mistakes but these farms will produce fantastic fish and we believe our model will work.

I am sorry that there are people who dislike what we do. I have found similar attitudes to many developments but few which raise so much heat. I hope that people will learn that we do believe in what we do, that we try to do things for the best and we hope to make as many friends around the world as we can. I know, as a cricket fan, that being a fanatic can be a lonely business. I have been lucky as a salmon farming fanatic to have found friends from Moscow to San Francisco and Venice to Vancouver. I wish I could say the same of cricket but then this will have to be my next project.

Amazingly I have written about being a fanatic and I have only now mentioned the word whisky. It just shows that you can love something and not talk about it!

Links to articles by Vivian Krause: –

Nick Joy