Updated: Aug 18
The Brundtland Commission first defined the use of the term ‘sustainability’ in environmental terms as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
And of course, we all need ‘development’, right?
This is the mantra that schools, universities and industry referred to for decades. However, it was almost immediately corrupted through the use of the term to self-certificate and cloak any profitable process which had an ‘environmental cost’. Used to allay any fears that a business practice may be environmentally damaging - and bully the public into believing that a company or industry can’t surely be depleting the earth’s resources if they are actually “sustainable”.
BP were one of the first to spin the term into the promise of “sustainable growth”. The shareholders have been treated to this for decades even though primary school kids know fossil fuels will run out, possibly in their lifetime. It’s meaningless in this context.
‘Sustainability’ has developed into a smug slogan in the Salmon farming industry. It still gets used in a scattergun pattern, punctuating every sentence and greenwashy phrase by Salmon farmers and the SSPO. Government ministers throw the term about in a creepy supercilious way. They lost sight of (and obfuscated) the true meaning from the start, forging ahead with expansion and relying on their perception that the public won’t be clever enough to give it a second thought.
This is how the industry operates. They position themselves above the public (and occasionally, the law) and they trade on an unaccountability model, appearing as untouchable. Unsustainably, as it happens.
Recently, since public perception has perhaps caught up with things, the use of the term “sustainability“ has taken a different theme. It is no longer being bandied about as a definitive term. Everyone is now “working towards sustainability” or, in the latest spin by the SSPO, their “commitment to increasing sustainability“. What on Earth does that mean?
When SEPA were asked what “sustainability” means to them - they were unable to actually define it.
How can you increase something that is a binary absolute? Something is either sustainable or it’s not. In the case of Salmon farming, which relies on a negative imbalance of food supply; environmentally damaging chemicals; the depletion of wild ‘cleaner fish’ stocks; creates an extinction vortex in wild fish stocks by escapees, pollution and parasites - and cleans up little or no waste, it is so far from being a sustainable process. But the SSPO are STILL using the word - by now it must be deliberately misleading and disingenuous, however they use it. After all, they tell us that “they have the best brains in the business”.
When you look at the latest scientific definition of “sustainability“, there are 3 principles to test the claim; (1) dependence on solar energy, (2) Biodiversity, and (3) chemical cycling.
Oh dear, Salmon farming will NEVER pass this test with their open sea-cages. And if they are to try it on land in those ever so environmentally friendly tanks, fed on cannabis oils or algal blooms, it’s going to take more than just cash to reach that ‘sustainable’ high.
What about a simplified version of the Brundtland definition: “Sustainable development is a way for people to use resources without the resources running out”?
Nope. Salmon farming poops on that from a great height.
The UN have gone a bit soft on description, presumably so all the ‘daft kids and Sun readers’ will understand and to give all the industry chancers a bit of a chance:
“In simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them. The term should be used conservatively and wisely”.
But “conservatively and wisely” are not how the Salmon industry works. And don’t try to dumb it down, it doesn't take a PhD to spot something fishy going on - those ‘daft kids and Sun readers’ are laughing at you.
Loch Duart, not known for being conservative or wise, have so much confidence in their understanding of “sustainability”, they print it on their fish boxes (although the ASA have now banned them from doing so - see https://www.fishybusiness.co.uk/post/unsustainability-part-2)
Look elsewhere to see THEIR environmental, mortality, health and welfare record. For example, the industry commentator & activist Don Staniford has a document written about Loch Duart available for download. Its a grim reality: https://donstaniford.typepad.com/my-blog/2018/02/loch-duart-the-really-not-very-sustainable-salmon-company-.html
There are too many reports into the claims of “sustainability” in rearing Salmon in open sea-cages to list here but the industry commentators have seen through it for years. The Marine Conservation Society have answered the validity of this very succinctly here: https://www.mcsuk.org/news/is-scottish-farmed-salmon-sustainable
Interestingly, it was noticed recently that the Scottish Salmon Company, who used to advertise as “The Sustainable Salmon Company” have now dropped this claim.
What is the future of the use of the term? The Advertising Standards Authority have been alerted and as many examples as possible have been supplied. They seem very interested and have already banned Loch Duart from using the term and its derivatives.
If the industry is to continue unabated as it is and even see expansion, sustainability will never be seen, “worked towards“ or “increased”. It is this fact that should be investigated and at the same time stop the profiteering on this “feeding a growing population” myth.
The whole salmon farming industry is inherently UNSUSTAINABLE.
Indeed, Salmon farming at sea is driving global food production difficulties and future food shortages, just as it is complicit in the destruction of our planet.