June 2022 – News

Record low salmon and sea trout catches in Scotland are cause for alarm: The latest official figures on Scottish salmon and trout angling have revealed that catches are at the lowest levels recorded. The figures show that 35,693 Atlantic salmon were caught in Scotland last year – the lowest number since records began in 1952. In 2018 (the last full year in which records were kept due to the coronavirus lockdowns) the number of Scottish salmon caught was just over 37,600, and in 2010 114,000 salmon were captured by anglers. The number of sea trout caught was also at a record low at 12,363. The reduced catch levels have led to warnings from scientists and ecologists that there are wider problems with Scotland’s marine and river ecosystems as salmon and trout are sensitive to pollution and water temperature. It is not known if climate change, chemical runoff from farms, the impact of large-scale fish farming or other forms of pollution are responsible for the decline. It is also believed that the increasing number of dams and weirs may have played a role in reducing numbers as they block the natural migration patterns of both species. The Scottish government has taken action to protect salmon and trout with measures being taken to improve water quality and trees being planted along riverbanks to block out the sun and reduce water temperature. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Five HPMAs to be designated in English waters: Five new Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) are set to be designated around the English coastline. One area will be off the coast of Northumberland, one off the coast of Cumbria, two will be in the North Sea and one in the English Channel. The highly protected status of these sites means that they are no-take zones where all fishing and other activities which disrupt the marine environment are banned within them. The vast majority of existing designated Marine Protected Zones (MPZs) do allow commercial fishing (including the most destructive types such as seabed trawling and dredging) as well as some other damaging activities such as seabed drilling. This has led to accusations from conservationists and campaigners that the current MPZ system is not fit for purpose and the zones are mere ‘paper parks’ which offer little real protection to the marine environment. It is now believed that the HPMA scheme could lead to the MPZs being upgraded to be given similar protections. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Huge tuna arrives at Scottish seafood market: The Daily Record ran a story this month about a huge tuna which has been sold to a Scottish seafood seller. The 7ft-long, 330lbs (150kg) bluefin tuna arrived at Eddie’s Seafood Market in Edinburgh this month, where 51-year-old Campbell Mickel will sell the fish. He said that he had been tasked by a sushi restaurant owner to find a tuna of that size and had spent three months trying to source the fish. The tuna was sent from Barcelona to Scotland and was farmed rather than wild-caught. Tuna farming (also known as ranching) involves catching small wild bluefin tuna and then raising them in pens until they reach marketable size. Read more here.

Rising diesel prices could force commercial vessels off the seas: Commercial fishermen have claimed that rising diesel prices will soon make it unviable to go to sea, leading to job losses in the commercial fishing industry. The Guardian has reported that red diesel used by fishing boats has almost doubled in price in the last eight months and a further rise of just 7p per litre will mean vessels will lose money by going fishing. The Guardian said that one of the largest fishing boats which operates out of Brixham has already come close to making a loss with the captain earning just £440 for a week at sea – the equivalent of working for £2.60 per hour. Read more on this story here.

Progress made in creating plant-based imitation seafood: Danish scientists have worked with a Michelin-starred restaurant to develop a new type of imitation seafood which is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. While plant-based meat and milk have advanced rapidly in recent years and are now widely available, plant-based seafood has lagged behind. This is because it is more challenging to make plant-based foods both taste like real seafood and have the correct texture. While imitation seafood is now available most varieties are based on a combination of seaweed and jackfruit or tofu and are generally classed as being much less convincing than imitation meats. The Copenhagen-based scientists have worked with Denmark’s Alchemist restaurant (which has two Michelin stars) and combined mycelia, a root-based type of fungus with seaweed to create the new type of imitation seafood. The co-owner and head chef of Alchemist, Rasmus Munk, said that there was no current imitation seafood which he would put on the restaurant’s menu, but they planned to create “a product that is so delicious in its own right, that it is chosen over other foods on the sole criterion of tastiness.” Click here to read more on this story.

Salmon farming company plans to fly fish across the Atlantic in own jet: A Faroese salmon farming company has alarmed climate campaigners by announcing plans to purchase its own jet to fly its fish across the Atlantic to consumers in the USA. Bakkafrost, which also owns the Scottish Salmon Company, has said that it will purchase the Boeing 757 in order to fly the fish it farms directly to New York when it can be on the plates of diners within 24 hours. The company claims this direct flight will reduce its carbon emissions by air freight by almost half as its current methods of getting its products across the Atlantic involve transporting the fish first to Heathrow and then on to America. However, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s Blake Lee-Harwood said that climate change was an “existential threat” to the seafood industry and companies should show that they are committed to “absolute best practice” which means moving away from transporting seafood by air. Other Faroese companies such as Hiddenfjord have stopped all air freight of their farmed fish and use ships instead. While this method is much slower – taking nine days to get from Europe to the USA – it is much cheaper, costing around one-tenth as much. Read more here.

Seaweed could be renamed Sea Forest to help feed millions: A UN advisor on food has said that seaweed could be renamed to make it more appealing to consumers and could eventually provide a staple food for much of the world. Vincent Doumeizel, who is the author of The Seaweed Revolution in addition to working for the UN, was speaking at the Hay Festival in Wales when he made the comments. Doumeizel claimed that all of the 12,000 varieties of seaweed found across the world were edible and that just 2 per cent of the oceans could be used to grow enough seaweed to feed a world population of twelve billion people. Using seaweed as food would also reduce the world’s carbon emissions and seaweed could also be used to feed livestock, reducing the damage which agriculture causes to the planet. Click here to read more.