Consumers of Tasmanian salmon have been led to believe that the welfare of fish are important to the feedlot salmon companies. But unfortunately this is more company marketing than reality. In reality, farmed salmon are kept in appalling conditions.
In nature, wild salmon are long distance swimmers, with a migration route from river to ocean of roughly 4,000 kilometers. Farmed salmon are packed into pens and forced to swim in circles. Because they are crammed in pens, they are vulnerable to parasites such as ameoba, which causes ameobic gill disease. Salmon companies treat this by hosing down the fish in fresh water - treatment which is incredibly stressful for the fish. An incredibly high percentage of farmed salmon die before being harvested - Tassal, the biggest feedlot salmon company, has told media that a loss of 17 per cent of stock is standard. Compare this to mortality rates in intensive meat chicken farming of 3-5 per cent.
Research from the University of Melboure has shown salmon are kept over summer in water temperatures that cause sub-lethal and lethal stresses, with salmon crushing into those parts of their pens with sufficient oxygen to breath. University of Melbourne research has also established that half of farmed salmon are deaf - the most likely reason being their fast growth rate, which prevents the animals ears from developing. Salmon are being grown faster than their bodies can bear. The Tasmanian salmon industry also grows genetically altered 'triploid' salmon, which undergo shock treatment in hatcheries to carry an extra set of chromosomes. Triploid salmon have higher rates of deformities and premature death. Deformities include warped jaws and spines, which interfere with the animals swimming and feeding patterns.
If you care about animal welfare, please sign our petition to Australia's big supermarkets. They are the biggest buyers of feedlot salmon and we're asking them to lift animal welfare standards within their procurement policies.