Loch Duart's 'Sustainable Salmon' Scam Exposed


Scotland's "sustainable salmon company" Loch Duart is caught between a rock and a hard place as plans to expand across the Atlantic in Eastern Canada encounter growing community opposition

Loch Duart's use of a cocktail of toxic chemicals is provoking outrage on both sides of the pond - as people realize that "the Sustainable Salmon Company" is behaving very badly indeed.

For many people in Canada and Scotland, "the Sustainable Salmon Company" sucks like sea lice!

A letter from opponents in Nova Scotia hand-delivered yesterday (29 March) to Loch Duart's head office in Scotland illustrates the depth of resentment across the pond in Canada and the rocky road ahead.  

"80-90% of the citizens of the Eastern Shore are against Loch Duart coming here," wrote Karen Elfendahl-Taetz and Karin Cope of the Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore in the letter addressed to ‘The People of Scotland’ and hand-delivered yesterday morning by Don Staniford to Loch Duart's office at Badcall Bay.   

"Many citizens have researched Loch  Duart online and are aware of its terrible record,” continued the letter.  “They have learned that Loch Duart is in no way better than any other salmon farm although they always claim to be. They are among the companies with most extensive use of toxic chemicals in all of Scotland. It´s also widely known that Loch Duart Ltd has an appalling track record on escapes.  The people of the Eastern Shore do not want Loch Duart despoiling their pristine coastline, polluting their coastal waters and spoiling their sustainable fisheries and industries."

The full text of the letter is as follows:

The message is crystal clear - Loch Duart is not welcome in Canada.

Loch Duart's head office is located on the West coast of Scotland in Badcall Bay near Scourie where visitors are welcomed by a 'No Unauthorized Access' sign. 

So what does Loch Duart - who aggressively market themselves as "The Sustainable Salmon Company" - have to hide from the public?

During a visit to their site yesterday (29 March) - to hand-deliver a letter from opponents in Canada - it became immediately obvious why Loch Duart wants to keep visitors out.  Out of the sight from the main road and tucked away in a corner of the site were vats of corrosive chemicals and nets (which Loch Duart states do not contain anti-fouling chemicals).

The vats of chemicals were marked "corrosive" and "harmful". 

Another stash of chemicals were hidden out of sight around the corner of Loch Duart's office.  

Warning labels screamed out from behind the fence.

Other warnings advised people against smoking. 

Through the chemical haze, Loch Duart's salmon farming operations were only just visible offshore in yesterday's morning mist. 

Piled up behind the building were totes (plastic containers) used for transporting morts (dead fish) back from the site. 

Loch Duart needs mort containers to deal with significant disease and sea lice infestation problems.  Information obtained via Freedom of Information revealed back in 2004, for example, that Loch Duart reported 95,484 kg of morts.  In 2007, Loch Duart also reported the following infectious diseases at various sites in Scotland - Gyrodactylus derjavini, Epitheliocystis, Flavobacterium, Adhesions and Aeromonas hydrophila.  In 2006, Loch Duart also reported Bacterial gill disease and Flavobacterium psychrophila (RTFS) - read more data online here

More details via 'Salmon Farming's 'Foot-and-Mouth' - Scotland's Secret Disease Epidemic Exposed'

The 'mort mountain' was stacked so high behind Loch Duart's building yesterday (29 March) it almost reached the chimney stack!

Other salmon farming sites in the area littered not only the coastline but also the shoreline.

Such litter is only the tip of the iceberg - watch more via 'The Shame Below the Waves'

A closer inspection of Loch Duart's track record reveals a sea lice infestation problem so serious that "the Sustainable Salmon Company" is using a cocktail of toxic chemicals at various sites across Scotland. 

Documents obtained this week via the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) public register in Dingwall reveal an alarming use of hazardous and toxic chemicals by Loch Duart (the public can also search online via the 'Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory'). 

Loch Duart's trigger-happy use of toxic chemicals includes the use of Azamethiphos, Deltamethrin, Emamectin benzoate and Teflubenzuron at sites in Badcall Bay, Loch Laxford and Oldany during 2011 and 2012. 

Azamethiphos is a highly toxic organophosphate marketed in Scotland, Ireland, Norway and Canada under the trade name Salmosan. 

Peer-reviewed scientific research from the Department of Fisheries & Oceans in Canada shows that Azamethiphos can be lethal to lobsters and can have a negative impact on spawning. 

Read more via 'Salmon Farming Kills Lobsters'

According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Azamethiphos is "highly toxic to birds and to aquatic species (particularly larvae)". 

In terms of human health impacts, SEPA advises:

"Inhalation of air containing azamethiphos may cause a number of adverse health effects including headache, weakness, nervousness, sweating, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. Exposure to extremely high levels may result in muscular twitching, eye pain, slurred speech, colic, hypersalivation, heart complaints, breathing difficulties, convulsions and unconsciousness. Ingestion of azamethiphos can lead to effects similar to those for inhalation. Dermal contact with azamethiphos may cause skin irritation and sensitisation. Absorption of azamethiphos through the skin may cause similar effects as those for inhalation and ingestion. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has not designated azamethiphos in terms of its carcinogenicity."

Deltamethrin is marketed under the trade name Alphamax and, according to the Norwegian group Bellona, is "acutely toxic to crustaceans (salmon lice, copepods, shrimp, crab)" (read more online here).   According to Gerald McEachern:

"Alphamax is based on deltamethrin, which is a replacement to DDT, and has been around in some form since the 1970s. It is a neurotoxin, and is not soluble in water, and is deadly to fish in high concentrations, and especially to crustaceans such as lobsters. It can also be hazardous to the humans who handle it. Deltamethrin is used on everything from pet parasites to bed bugs, and recent studies show that some parasites are quickly building up a genetic resistance to the chemical due to its over-use."

Read more via 'A bit more Alphamax on your salmon, sir?'

Emamectin benzoate is marketed under the trade name SLICE with the catchy tag-line 'SLICE kills lice'.  Sadly however, SLICE is not nice and the active ingredient Emamectin benzoate also highly toxic to other crustacea such as lobsters. 

Read more via 'Aquaculture Pesticides Are Killing Lobster'

Read more data on the use of Emamectin benzoate by Loch Duart and other companies in Scotland - online here!

Data compiled by the Pure Salmon Campaign, for example, shows that Loch Duart was the biggest user of SLICE in Scotland (per tonne of feed produced) in 2006 - using more of the toxic chemical than even Scotland's largest salmon producer (Marine Harvest):

Read more details from a 2008 report on Loch Duart online here

Loch Duart shamefully also uses the controversial chemical Teflubenzuron which is not authorized in Canada - and was not used in Norway (until recently) due to concerns over potential carcinogenicity (read more online here).  Even the chemical manufacturers of Calicide (the trade name for Teflubenzuron) admit that it is "dangerous for the environment", "very toxic to aquatic organisms" and "may cause adverse long term effects in the environment" (read more online here).  

Loch Duart's claims to be chemical-free and sustainable are clearly a pile of bullshit!

For more background on the impacts of the chemicals used on salmon farms read 'Silent Spring of the Sea'

In view of the persistent use of toxic chemicals in Scotland, it is not surprising that chemical residues have been found by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) contaminating sediments under salmon farms in Scotland (read the surveys online here). 

Read more via 'Revealed: the toxic pesticides that pollute our lochs' and 'Scotland's Toxic Toilets Revealed'

Escapes are also an ongoing problem at Loch Duart with at least 8 escapes since 2000 involving over 50,000 farmed salmon - including the following officially reported incidents:

April 2011: "Up to 100 fish" from Loch Duart's Loch Carnan site (later officially reported as 40)
December 2008: 6,500 from Loch Duart's Oldany site (more details online here)

November 2007: 10,400 from Loch Duart's Loch Laxford site

October 2005: 3,000 from Loch Duart's Badcall Bay site (according to the Scottish Government, the escapees had also been treated with EXCIS - Cypermethrin)
May 2004: 200 from Loch Duart's Torgawn site
August 2003: 18,416 from Loch Duart's Calva Bay (Calbha Beag) site (according to the Scottish Government, the escapees also came from a site affected by "Clinical Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis")
June 2002: 8,147 from Loch Duart's Badcall Bay site (according to the Scottish Government, the escapees had also been treated with SLICE - Emamectin benzoate)
In 2000, Loch Duart also reported an escape of 9,108 salmon from a site in Loch na Thuille

Asked to comment on the 2008 escape, respected angling writer Bruce Sandison told The Northern Times: "Yet again we are hearing more crocodile tears from Nick Joy.  Over the past few years there has been a succession of escapes from his cages and all of these escapes are inevitably put down to severe weather conditions, attacks by seals or attacks by otters.  There is no doubt in my mind that the only way to properly protect our coastal waters is to get the farms out of the water and bring them on shore where they can continue their business and not damage our environment."

There's no escaping the fact that Loch Duart's operations are neither sustainable nor environmentally responsible. 

Sadly, the reality of Loch Duart's salmon farming operations does not match the rhetoric of their public relations (read their web-site online here). 

Loch Duart trumpets a policy of "no antifouling treatments on nets or moorings" and "no antibiotics" (read online here) yet fails to reveal the use of toxic chemicals such as Azamethiphos, Deltamethrin, Emamectin benzoate and Teflubenzuron. 

In fact, An analysis of SEPA's Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (using data obtained by FOI - reported by Scottish salmon farming companies) reveals that:
- Loch Duart was the #1 user of SLICE (Emamectin benzoate) per tonne of feed in 2006 (#4 in absolute terms) in 2006
- In 2007 (data up to June) Loch Duart was the #1 user of SLICE per tonne of feed
- In 2005 and 2006, Loch Duart was the #1 user of EXCIS (Cypermethrin) per tonne of feed
- In 2008 (data up to June), Loch Duart reported the use of EXCIS (Cypermethrin) at five sites and SLICE (Emamectin benzoate) at four sites with Drumbeg Salmon reporting the use of EXCIS at a further three sites and SLICE at one
Loch Duart's Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory data returns to SEPA for 2007 (obtained from SEPA via FOI in May 2008), for example, list the following in the 'Antimicrobials' section:
- 115665 grams of Panacur 4% Powder (active ingredient: Fenbendazole) at Loch Duart's N Calbha Bay, Site 7
- 73605 grams of Panacur 4% Powder (active ingredient: Fenbendazole) at Loch Duart's East Rubh a Mhucard, Site 6
- 94896 grams of Panacur 4% Powder (active ingredient: Fenbendazole) at Loch Duart's Calbha Beag, Site 5
Furthermore, Drumbeg Salmon's Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory data returns to SEPA for 2007 (obtained from SEPA via FOI in May 2008 - signed off also by Hazel Wade of Loch Duart on 25th January 2008) list the following in the 'Antimicrobials' section:
- 129600 grams of Panacur 4% Powder (active ingredient: Fenbendazole) at Reintraid
- 76000 grams of Panacur 4% Powder (active ingredient: Fenbendazole) at Torgawn

When this damning information was put to Loch Duart's Managing Director Nick Joy in January 2009, he replied "I am not ashamed to say that we could do better. I wish we were perfect but we are not."  Read the email reply in full below:

Nick Joy also admitted publicly during the Seafood Summit in Florida in 2007 that Loch Duart routinely kills seals.

The slaughter in Scotland continues with over 1,000 licences issued to kill seals in 2011 alone (read more background online here).  And when questioned on the use of toxic chemicals, Mr. Joy attempted to justify their use by saying that the same chemicals are also used on dogs and cats.  "But we don't eat dogs and cats," retorted one member of the audience who wouldn't feed farmed salmon to her dog or cat. 

Meanwhile, chefs and restaurants continue to naively fall hook, line and stinker for Loch Duart's claims.  Feng Sushi for example proudly (and wrongly) claim on their web-site:

"At Loch Duart they operate a fallow system taking one farm out of production each year, this cuts down on loch bed pollution and means they don’t use any chemicals on their pens"

Award-winning chef (and prize chump) Raymond Blanc claimed on his 'Le Blog' in 2010 that Loch Duart was the "gold-standard":

Carnan Smokehouse claim on their web-site that "Loch Duart’s approach to rearing salmon gives priority to the health and welfare of the fish, to the long term protection of the environment and to the delivery of an outstanding product to the consumer". 

Chefs in the United States have also fallen for Loch Duart's dubious claims which have been marketed by the company Cleanfish as "setting the gold-standard".  Cleanfish boasts on its web-site that Loch Duart uses "No hormones, antibiotics, growth promoters, grow-lights or GMOs" yet is coy about the use of the toxic chemicals Azamethiphos, Deltamethrin, Emamectin benzoate and Teflubenzuron.

Thankfully, not everyone has been conned.  Writing in News Review in 2010 Alistair Bland said:

"Throughout the world, Loch Duart thrives on a reputation for producing “sustainable” and “artisanal” salmon and has been commended by some of the most esteemed chefs in the world. Stewart at Spice Creek Café says her wholesaler, American Fish in Sacramento, has assured her the product is “organic.”

It is not, however. According to records from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Loch Duart treats its fish with Slice, Panacur and Excis, all common parasite treatments, and the farm is not certified organic. When the CN&R contacted representatives of Cleanfish, a San Francisco seafood distributor that formally represents the Scottish farm, they did not respond to repeated requests to discuss whether the farm uses Slice or artificial coloring in the fish’s feed, both standard applications in nonorganic salmon-farming operations.

Stewart, who has been serving Loch Duart’s fish for several years, knew the salmon was farmed.

“But I had thought it was a controlled, clean environment without any chemicals. I remember thinking, ‘Great! Someone is taking salmon farming back to what it should be and producing a sustainable product.’ I hate to think that they might be tricking people,” she said, upon hearing from this reporter that the company appears to use the same methods as other farmed fisheries.

Stewart, who said she will no longer purchase Loch Duart’s fish, acknowledged that restaurant staff and chefs often put their trust in their fish vendors. “You take their word for what’s sustainable and where something comes from, but maybe they don’t even know.”

Read more via 'Dirty Secrets of Farmed Salmon'

Many people feel that Loch Duart's claims are just too hard to swallow.  Loch Duart 'Sustainable Salmon' is a sham, scam and a consumer con. 

Data compiled by the Pure Salmon Campaign via their report 'Scottish Farmed Salmon Exposed' also reveals various pollution incidents:

Moreover, Loch Duart's use of toxic chemicals such as Cypermethrin (EXCIS) ranked highly (i.e. badly) compared to other companies operating in Scotland.

Even Loch Duart's claims relating to the non-use of antifoulants and antibiotics were shown to be less than impressive when it was shown that most companies in Scotland did not report their use. 

Loch Duart also performed badly in terms of escapes:

Read more details from a 2008 report on Loch Duart online here

The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) also questions Loch Duart's credentials:

CAAR identifies 'areas of concern' including chemicals and escapes:

Read more via 'Can open net pen salmon farming be sustainable?  The Loch Duart Reality'

Driving around this week on the winding roads near Loch Duart's salmon farming operations it was strange to see roadsigns warning of flying pigs:

The road ahead for Loch Duart in both Canada and Scotland will certainly be a bumpy and painful one.  As the Association for the Residents of Eastern Shore wrote in their letter yesterday:

"Loch Duart sets the quality of life on the Eastern Shore, the jobs and livelihoods of the people living here at risk.  The people living on the Eastern Shore are convinced that the Scottish people will understand them. They also want to protect their environment and their living on the coast. Maybe they do also worry about what kind of light it throws on Scotland having aScottish company destroying the environment in Canada.  In an interview about the proposed fish farms and why he chose Nova Scotia for expanding his business Nick Joy said: “It’s very easy to be in a room full of Canadians.”  The people of the Eastern Shore will not make it easy for you, Mr. Joy!"

The Chronicle Herald newspaper in Canada reported last month for example:

"During a recent town hall meeting in Sheet Harbour where the Scottish company Loch Duart and its Nova Scotia subsidiary Snow Island Salmon presented their plans to establish three fish farms, a packed hall forcefully made their "No" message clear to government bureaucrats and politicians.

Armed with scientific information and questions, interveners from the lobster fishery, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, and the Ecology Action Centre made it clear that they considered the implantation of aquaculture on these shores to be a threat to their sustainable fisheries.

Fish farms on the Eastern Shore will also harm tourism, real estate, and the quality of life of current residents. Coastal residents, tourist operators and marine recreation businesses all voiced their views that fish farms would be bad for them."

Read more via 'Eastern Shore Salmon Farms Too Much of a Risk'

Fresh from being lambasted in Canada, Loch Duart's Managing Director Nick Joy could be forgiven for feeling sheepish. 

Buyers of Loch Duart's 'Sustainable Salmon' beware the salmon in sheep's clothing!  There is simply no excuse, however, for the blatant bullshit peddled by Loch Duart. 

Even the local wildlife were giving some quizzical looks when asked about 'the Sustainable Salmon' company. 

Loch Duart, however, this week bullishly refused to reply to polite requests for a meeting leaving a serious question mark on their so-called 'sustainable' operations.  

Loch Duart certainly has a great deal of explaining to do - to the people of Nova Scotia where they are eyeing up expansion; to lobsterfishermen in Scotland who do not know about the chemical treatments routinely carried out on their doorstep; and to chefs who have been duped about chemical use.  

If Loch Duart is listening: how on earth can the use of a cocktail of toxic chemicals, mass escapes, infectious diseases and sea lice infestation be considered "best practice"? 

Don Staniford (contact via: dstaniford@gaaia.org)