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Nature
Salmon farming and whales

Salmon farming and whales

Mirthquake Foundation's statement of support for the Ecohustler salmon campaign

Sponsored
Vintage Cash Cow

Vintage Cash Cow

Fundraising innovation for charity shops to raise more money during the pandemic

Culture
New report slams advertising regulator

New report slams advertising regulator

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) under fire for weak enforcement and for being in the pockets of the ad industry

Culture
Meet Mabon - the 8 year old environmental activist

Meet Mabon - the 8 year old environmental activist

This stunningly stark north welsh coast has an unexpected guardian

Culture
Letters to the Earth

Letters to the Earth

Writing to a Planet in Crisis

Nature
Three-quarters of Scots support rewilding

Three-quarters of Scots support rewilding

Findings come as call launched for Scotland to become world’s first ‘Rewilding Nation’

Today's reading
Nature

Salmon farming and whales

Mirthquake Foundation's statement of support for the Ecohustler salmon campaign

Whales - extraordinary, intelligent beings are harmed by salmon farming

Mirthquake Foundation stands for supporting the ancient and profound relationship between man and cetacean, a bond of fellowship through the ages, recorded in myth, legend and story.

Mirthquake also stands four-square in support of Ecohustler’s campaign to draw considered attention to the cruel, anti-environmental practices of Scottish salmon farming.

Mirthquake fully endorses Ecohustler’s position. Wild salmon, a cetacean staple, are diminishing in number as diseased farm stock escape and breed with wild salmon. The impact of salmon farming practices on both cetaceans and humans, as well as many other species, is demonstrable and considerable.

How intelligent is a whale? Close up of a whale eye

Cetacean welfare is compromised already by numerous callous interventions of mankind: ship-strike, noise pollution, naval sonar experiments, chemical and plastic pollution, by-catch and more. To this egregious list must now be added the damaging effects of Scottish salmon-farming.

The customary diet of many cetaceans includes wild salmon whose numbers and condition are in fast decline. In addition to the genetic miscegenation of wild and farmed fish, diminishing the survival and breeding instincts of the former, must now be added the growing incidence of fish lice widely reported in wild salmon and the substantial tonnage of waste produced.

The recent stories concerning the abject cruelty being meted out on these fish, coupled with extensive die-offs which are buried nearby, is a dreadful and inexcusable indictment of the industry.

The levels of disease prevailing on Scottish fish farms, lice-parasitism afflicting as many as one in five farmed salmon, is well-known to divers who have inspected both the cages, and the underlying bacterial mat of faeces and veterinary treatments building up beneath the cages.

Factory cages for salmon

Operators of Scottish salmon farms have clearly put faith in veterinary science while operating in a benign, perhaps toothless, regulatory environment. In circumstances where operators are plainly failing to meet the challenge of keeping farms clean and sustainable, shareholders, managers, scientific advisers and consumers would all do well to consider whether ever-cheaper, tasteless and medicated salmon should continue to be eaten let alone produced.

It is disingenuous of the Scottish government, reportedly aiming to increase salmon farming by 50% over the next few years, to suggest such an increase will benefit anyone except organisations such as MOWI, while continuing to ravage the remarkable and world-renowned West Coast.

The damage done to the environment by salmon farming off the West Coast of Scotland is well-documented, while financial and political interests remain in full denial. The wild populations have plummeted in all the once-revered rivers of the Highlands – the Tay, Findhorn, Spey, Oykel and Clyde to name a few. The Clyde has its own challenges as Chromium-VI still leaches from the site of a chemical factory closed 50 years ago, doubtless insinuating itself into the domestic and wild aquatic food chain.

Rather than energising the local economy, once a thriving and highly sophisticated culture of neighbourly crofting, salmon farming has devastated everything within its purlieu. It has led to both the toxification and stripping of the seabed and the loss of jobs, none of which have reparation in a salmon farming industry, predominantly foreign-owned and highly automated.

That other fish stocks are decimated for processing the food for farmed salmon is lunacy.

Mirthquake Trustees support the promotion of other forms of sustainable industries along the coasts - oysters, mussels and tangle – rather than continuation of perverse salmon farming.

_Ocean farming has _immense potential to restore our seas  

What of the cetaceans in all of this? The Minch, Pentland Firth and Orkney waters have become the new whale watching destination. Twenty-six species of baleen and toothed whales, porpoises and dolphins are regularly spotted here. An increasingly rare North Atlantic Right Whale was recently noted in the Minch, one of only 400 or so remaining, having crossed from the Eastern Seaboard of America.

The Moray Firth is home to a unique population of Bottlenose Dolphins, as the largest in number and size of any resident pod in the world, and further north than any other population. Their bulk, as protection against the colder water, is sustained on the fat of the salmon.

Moray Firth dolphins at play

This pod has been in the Firth at least as long as since the Picts disappeared. They are a touchstone to everyone along both shores, a focal interest to all and on signs and billboards across the Highlands. They bring income from tourism, provide employment and natural history education, locally as well as further afield. A modern indigenous connection to the cetaceans is in play here. The people of the Firth are deeply linked to the dolphins nearby.

The cautionary tale of the Lummi Nation of the coastal region of Washington State should be forever a source of salmon farming shame. The over exploitation of salmon and salmon farming has all but obliterated the wild Pacific salmon population, the staple food of the migratory and resident Orcas inhabiting Lummi sacred waters. So much so, the Lummi have started to feed the Orcas by hand, endeavouring to keep the population viable, for the Orca is ancestor, friend, brother and sister to the Lummi.

The desecration of the king of fish is anti-cetacean, anti-environment and anti-culture. To strive for 'domestication' of the salmon is indicative of the continuing blindness of man to Nature.

Sponsored

Vintage Cash Cow

Fundraising innovation for charity shops to raise more money during the pandemic

With charity shops currently being closed, the third sector is facing significant revenue loss of up to £28m for each month of lockdown, according to the Charity Retail Association. Vintage Cash Cow provides relief through an innovative fundraising service which helps charities sell their unsold and non-saleable donations via a hassle-free retail solution with no overhead costs. This way, more money is being raised for the end cause.

The company operates a free-to-use postal service for a pandemic-friendly way to recycle, upcycle and rehome charities’ donations. Although non-essential shops currently find themselves in a survival battle with no ability to use their facilities, central warehouses can take advantage of this downtime to sort and send stock to Vintage Cash Cow. This way they can secure a double win: source extra income during the lockdown period and free up their floor space for additional donations.

The Vintage Cash Cow team learned that charity shops typically sell their copper, pewter, silver plate and other items for as little as 5p a kilo, with many preferring to give them away at no cost just to make more room for the next donations. In light of this, the Vintage Cash Cow charity team has launched a metal price promise, where it pays a guaranteed minimum of £1per kilo for all non-precious scrap metals.

However, the service doesn’t just buy non-precious metal. Other items include jewellery, precious metals, silver and silver plated pieces, watches, medals, militaria, toys, cameras, old currency, and more. Items are accepted in any condition, including broken or damaged.

Regular customers, including Sue Ryder Care, enjoy an average of £45 per box sent, although the most valuable box sent so far by a charity shop was sold for over £850. Since launching its service with charities, Vintage Cash Cow has bought over £200,000 worth of unsold and non-saleable items.

Maximising income

Garry Wilkinson, head of Charity Partnerships at Vintage Cash Cow, says, “Maximising income is, of course, vital for charities but, for most, storage space is also very limited and we can help them to increase both. After the first lockdown, shops received far more donations than usual and were struggling to sort the stock and clear the shop floor. The result was that many charities were forced to dispose of lower value items to clear space for these surplus donations. So we invite them to give us a call while their shops are closed to get them ready to use our service once they reopen. It is very easy and the service is completely free. We will provide them with a convenient way to generate additional income and deal with an increased level of donations effectively at a time when they are also struggling with the impact of lockdown on their income streams.”

David Weaver, co-founder of Vintage Cash Cow, adds, “We want to make sure that charities are able to maximise every single donation people are making, so we offer them our free to use service. We’re here to support the third sector, acting like an add-on, a specialist sales operation.”

For charities without shops, Vintage Cash Cow can also help them advertise to their supporters, encouraging the donation of appropriate items which the charity can easily turn into cash.

David concludes, “We have a wide experience in the third sector and the commercial market, so charities can be assured that they’re in good hands. This way, they remove the risk of selling items below market value as our team of experts can provide a fair valuation for every product category we handle.”

Minimising environmental impact

Aside from the financial incentives, putting unsold and non-saleable donations back into the recycling circle has many environmental benefits. Garry explains, “The charity partnerships are an important part of our business, as we can make sure that nothing that could be reused or recycled ends up in a landfill. Not only is this important for the majority of charity shop managers, but it also supports many of the aims of the Government’s new Environment Bill.”

Future plans

Head of Charity Partnerships Garry Wilkinson has worked for several charities over the last 18 years, including three years as the chairman of the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers. He joined the company in early 2019, after Vintage Cash Cow realised that it had several hundred charity shops registered as normal customers which required a separate approach. Together, the charity team managed to sign up an additional 1,400-1,500 shops by March 2020 and had a constant stream of about 350 monthly charity boxes before the start of the pandemic .

Garry says, “Currently we have over 1,800 charity shops from over 270 charitable organisations across the UK using our service. Those working with Vintage Cash Cow include AGE UK, YMCA, Cats Protection, Sue Ryder, Mind, RSPCA and many more nationals, as well as smaller independent charities and over 90 hospices too. Cancer Research UK, OXFAM and British Red Cross have also expressed their interest in launching a trial of the service in some of their regions when Lockdown 3 is over. Aside from organisations already committed to launch, we have in the region of a further 3,000 shops waiting to start using Vintage Cash Cow. Lockdown has, of course, been very challenging. However, we have also spoken to a lot of senior decision makers at charities throughout the UK who are really keen to improve the income generated from their shops post-lockdown and see how our service can become an important part of this.”

The company expects to grow the number of charity shop customers by 140% over the next six months, to over 4,000 shops. By this time next year, the aim is to have over 6,000 charity shops using the service, which is over half of all the charity shops in the UK.

The registration process

Charity shops wanting to find out more can fill in a simple contact form on the website and they will receive a phone call from Garry to answer any questions about the service. Shops receive a welcome email and have a charity pack posted out to them, which includes a product brochure, posters and flash-cards, showing which items can and can’t be accepted. When the first box is ready, Vintage Cash Cow’s customer service team will organise a free collection of the items. Each box can weigh up to 30kg. The service works regardless of a charity’s size, whether it has one shop or 700 shops. As well as using the service as an outlet for their unsold and non-saleable donations, shop managers can also confidently promote the donation of more antique, collectable and metal items and know that they have a reliable outlet to sell them.

“As a small charity, we need to maximise every opportunity to raise funds and Vintage Cash Cow seemed to be the perfect place to send unsold bric-a-brac.” Mission Care

Garry explains, “We know that it can take time for a charity to understand which items will make the most money. That is why we have created a range of resources to help charities maximise the value of their boxes. We also offer ongoing communication from our customer service team to support charities throughout the process and help them to grow their income. The aim is to make the process as smooth as possible for them.”

“Really quick service and had a phone call within just three days of sending off the box and a cheque followed the day after. Would definitely recommend it.” Brace

For more details, please visit www.vintagecashcow.co.uk/fundraising.

Culture

New report slams advertising regulator

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) under fire for weak enforcement and for being in the pockets of the ad industry

Artist: Matt Bonner

A new, hard-hitting report analyses data on complaints to the ASA, revealing that only 22% of complained-about adverts are investigated and only 2% upheld, with the ASA often deciding not to investigate because it considers there is ‘no issue’.

The report, ‘Too close for comfort - A look into the Advertising Standards Authority and the case for more controls on advertising’ was published earlier this month by campaigning network Adfree Cities and argues for urgent reform of the ASA.

A major concern raised by the report is that the codes used by the ASA to decide if there is an issue with an advert are written by ad industry insiders.

Carla Denyer, Policy Coordinator at Adfree Cities, asks,

Drivers don’t decide their own speed limits, or set their own fines. Restaurants don’t decide their own hygiene ratings. So why are advertisers allowed to decide their own rules about what they can show us?

She goes on,

“Most of the advertising codes focus on whether an advert makes false claims about its product. But ads can do harm in other ways, by promoting socially or environmentally damaging products, indirectly misleading consumers (e.g. with unrealistic imagery rather than false claims), causing offence, or by perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

“Our report presents case studies of three adverts which received hundreds of complaints but were not upheld by the ASA. One is the MoneySuperMarket #epicsquads campaign which depicts a group of builders holding bats and chasing a group of men in hotpants and heels. Although the ad ends with a ‘joke’, the humour is premised upon and arguably reinforces the threat of violence to LGBT+ people, a protected minority. 455 complaints were submitted but no action was taken.

The study also points out that the advertising regulator’s lack of ‘teeth’ is a barrier to effective protection of the public. Unlike other regulators, the ASA has no power to fine companies that breach its rules by making misleading or offensive ads. The harshest type of sanction usually applied is to require the advert to be pulled - but because complaints typically take between 60 and 115 days to be processed, the ad campaign has often run its course before any action is taken.

Denyer explains: “In the case of a McDonald’s advert which tastelessly played on a family bereavement to sell fish burgers, even McDonald’s conceded to the complaints and withdrew the advert. But they faced no penalty despite the upset that the advert had already caused.”

Ralph Underhill, the report’s author, argues that there are several key ways to improve regulation of advertising in the UK.

We need a truly independent body to regulate advertising - one which is transparent, fair and involves the public in decision making.

“Advertising is pushed onto us without our consent. You do not ask to see an advert. So if you feel something in an advert harms you or others in some way, you should feel confident that there is a simple and easy way to do something about it. Currently, when the ASA’s rules are broken, the consequences are almost non-existent. It is time for meaningful change. We need a fair process that has real consequences for breaking the rules, involves members of the public in the complaints process, and is open and transparent for all to see.”

The report also calls for stronger rules, including on the environmental impact of adverts. And it concludes with actions that individuals and communities can take to push for reforms of the advertising industry.

Adfree Cities is holding a webinar on 24th March to explore how campaigners can both use and bypass the ASA to address issues of environmental degradation, mental health and climate breakdown.

Register at adfreecities.org.uk/asa