Paxman hits out at failure to tackle fish farms crisis
TELEVISION presenter Jeremy Paxman has launched a scathing attack on the Scottish Government over the crisis in salmon farming.
The keen angler claimed that the industry ‘doesn’t really care much’ about the environment – and said ministers were failing to curb the damage.
And it was, he said, ‘contemptible’ that more had not been done to stand up to ‘a big powerful vested interest’.
Mr Paxman made the comments in a documentary for Iceland’s national broadcaster, RUV, which examined the lessons to be learned from the industry in Scotland.
Salmon is Scotland’s biggest food export, worth around £600million a year, and the industry wants to more than double production by 2030.
But a report by Holyrood’s environment committee earlier this year raised concerns that growth ‘may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment’ amid fears about sea lice infestation.
In the RUV documentary, called Under the Surface, Mr Paxman said: ‘There’s absolutely no reason to think that anything different is going to happen in Iceland to what happened in Scotland.
‘This is a huge business that doesn’t really care about the environmental damage it inflicts. I think if you guys let these men expand at-sea salmon farms in the way they want to do it you are fools.’
Condemning inaction on the issue, he said: ‘There’s nothing governments like more than a promise of employment and a promise of being loved by a big, powerful vested interest. I think it’s contemptible.’
Don Staniford, director of the Scottish Salmon Watch campaign group, said: ‘Scottish salmon farming is dead in the water due to infectious diseases, lice infestations and mass mortalities.
‘Little wonder that anglers like Jeremy Paxman are rising up against the Scottish Government’s reckless plans for expanding salmon farming.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We are committed to an aquaculture policy that enables sustainable growth while maintaining our economic, environmental and social responsibilities.
‘The sector supports more than 12,000 jobs and makes a major contribution to the economy in remote rural, island and coastal areas – the most recent figures suggest it contributes nearly £1billion annually.’
Enthusiastic angler: Jeremy Paxman after a fishing trip off Cuba