Factory farmed salmon crash the Marine Stewardship Council’s Annual Awards dinner

On going MSC greenwash and mislabelling sent up by Ocean Rebellion in photogenic curbside theatrics

City of London Police inspect the Pink Pong scene and interrogate the salmon heads about RSPCA backed cruelty - photo credit - Ocean Rebellion

First published on Ocean Rebellion here

Two salmon performers from Ocean Rebellion beached in front of the Marine Stewardship Council’s [MSC] Annual Awards dinner at the Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London.

They performed a bizarre game called Pink Pong, a game created to draw attention to the terrible cruelty of the Scottish salmon industry, who, with the backing of the RSPCA, are exposing salmon to horrific tortures and polluting the pristine waters of Scotland.

Inside the opulent Fishmonger’s Hall members of the fishing and fish farming industry [and the greenwashing organisations the MSC and ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council)] were devouring overfished fish and patting themselves on the back for a year’s good work. Their keynote speaker, marine biologist and TV presenter Monty Halls, delivered his own pat on their collective backs.

Ocean Rebellion performers outside the Marine Stewardship Council’s [MSC] Annual Awards dinner at the Fishmongers’ Hall - photo credit - Ocean Rebellion

It’s been a great year for the overfishing and fish cruelty industry. Another year when they’ve been able to profit from their destruction of the world’s fish populations. Another year when salmon farming has continued farming despite reports of RSPCA assured farms having high mortality rates, some as high as 74%. That’s 74% of RSPCA assured farmed salmon dying in cruel conditions in a month (Wildfish, 2023). Devoured slowly by sea lice or killed agonisingly by diseases caused by overcrowding. @MontyHalls do you really want to be associated with this animal torture? Can the RSPCA really claim it is protecting salmon from cruelty?

Last year the Scottish salmon industry produced 169,194 tonnes of farmed salmon; 36,199 tonnes less than in 2021. This drop in production is due to dying salmon caused by crowded salmon cages, salmon lice and careless (or no) animal welfare standards. And the RSPCA assured farmed salmon welfare standards are drawn up by the salmon farm management themselves. The RSPCA is paid to ‘assure’ their farms. In 2020 it was allegedly paid over £500,000 by salmon farms for its prestigious assurance label. Can we really trust a label that’s paid for – isn’t this a conflict of interest? The same can be said of the MSC and its brother the ASC, both ‘charities’ receive money to ‘approve’ fisheries and fish farms.

Recently, because of public disgust at the poor state of salmon welfare, the salmon farming industry has applied to rename their product from ‘Farmed Salmon’ to just ‘Salmon’. It’s a cunning plan to confuse any consumers who have realised farmed salmon is cruel and unfit for consumption. Is there no end to their pursuit of profit?

Our invented game of Pink Pong parodies the game played by the salmon farming industry. It starts by tinting dying salmon pink and selling any survivors, also dyed pink, to gullible supermarkets like Waitrose and M&S who pass on this dreadful product to their unknowing customers. It’s enough to turn your stomach. RSPCA Assured labelling claims to set a “higher farm animal welfare standard”, but specifies no limit on the percentage of fish dying on its ‘certified’ farms. Farmed salmon from farms with mortality as high as 74% a month can be sold with an RSPCA-assured “high welfare” label in UK supermarkets (Wildfish, 2023).

Attendees look out the windows of Fishmongers Hall - photo credit - Ocean Rebellion

Our salmon performers made the journey up the polluted Thames to Fishmongers Hall to call out the RSPCA on its cruelty-endorsing mission, to flag to the Charity Commission the RSPCAs dereliction of its duty towards the suffering of fish, and to highlight the RSPCAs shocking neglect of animal welfare to its funders. Funders who are totally unaware of how significant the RSPCA endorsement of salmon farming is to the continuation of mass cruelty.

We ask anyone reading this article to let @RSPCA_official know what they think of RSPCA ‘assurance labelling’. A labelling system that offers no assurance. Instead it helps salmon farming continue its salmon torture and confuses consumers who are trying to make the right choice. Shame on you RSPCA.

“The RSPCA, who are supposed to work against animal cruelty, have been bought off by the salmon industry. Open-net salmon farming is not a viable industry. If the same levels of deaths and disease happened in chicken farming consumers would boycott chicken, but the RSPCA turns a blind eye to salmon, the chicken of the sea.” Says Ocean Rebellion member Roc Sandford.

“And if consumers understood that labelling on farmed salmon saying ‘this product may contain crustaceans’ means this product contains sea lice – do you think they’d still eat it? The RSPCA should be ashamed, not only are they enabling animal cruelty they are also hoodwinking the general public. It’s very simple, it’s time to put an end to salmon farming.” Adds Ocean Rebellion member Andrew Darnton.

Photo credit - Ocean Rebellion