A disturbing video has emerged of what have been described as “zombie salmon” swimming at a fish farm in Scotland, sparking an investigation.
The underwater footage taken by Don Staniford—an activist against salmon farming—shows a flurry of salmon swimming at the Bakkafrost Scotland salmon farm in Portree, a town on the Isle of Skye.
The video, filmed on Staniford’s GoPro, at first follows one particular salmon around that appears to have chunks of flesh missing from its body.
In various Twitter posts on his page, @TheGAAIA, Staniford likened the footage to watching “an X-rated horror film,” while he also described the creatures as “‘zombie salmon.”
While it’s not been confirmed how the fish sustained the injuries, Staniford told Newsweek: “Cramming salmon in cages is like battery farming and is a welfare nightmare. Packed cages are also an open invitation to predators like seals.”
“To avoid predation, salmon farms should have installed anti-predator nets but effective deterrents are expensive. If salmon farmers cannot prevent predator attacks then they should move out of the areas where seals have lived for centuries.”
The gruesome video continues to show various other fish suffering from the same sort of injuries.
Newsweek has contacted Bakkafrost Scotland for a comment, but had not received a response by the time of publication. In a statement sent to The Daily Record newspaper, the company—the second-largest salmon farmer in Scotland—said it was committed to ensuring the welfare and health of its fish.
“We have just become aware of a film showing two fish which appear to have been attacked by seals, and which is suggested to have been taken at our Portree site,” a Bakkafrost Scotland spokesperson told the news outlet. “As with all farmers the health and welfare of our stock is of paramount importance, and a recent RSPCA inspection at the site did not flag any issues.”
Staniford, who also directs a campaign group dedicated to ending salmon farming called $camon $cotland, took the footage between June 28 and 29 in the early hours of the morning, The Daily Record reported.
The Highland Council, a Scottish local government authority, said it would investigate the footage.
A Highland Council spokesman told Newsweek: “We can confirm that a complaint has been received by Highland Council and we are liaising with our animal health partners in Scottish Government on an investigation.”
A spokesperson for RSPCA Assured, an animal welfare group, told The Daily Record it had looked into the complaint and was “satisfied that the farm was doing everything they could to protect the welfare of both the salmon and any predators, such as seals, by trying to prevent any predators from entering the pen.”
There are over 200 salmon farms around the coast of Scotland, producing around 150,000 tonnes of salmon a year.
However the farms have become controversial among animal rights activists in recent years.
At these farms, salmon are raised in nets, in controlled environments. Usually, the salmon are born into freshwater and then transported to salt water environments when they grow.
There are some concerns that salmon farms harbor an abundance of parasites, such as lice, as well as infectious diseases that can be harmful to the fish.
There are also arguments as to whether the practice is sustainable. Activists are concerned that because farmed salmon feed on smaller fish, this could lead to overfishing of certain smaller species like sardines.
Salmon farming is the fastest growing food production system in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Newsweek contacted the Scottish government and Scottish SPCA but they declined to comment.
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