A petition calling for emergency inspections of all commercial salmon farming operations has topped 42,000 signatures.
The petition, by consumer watchdog SumOfUs, alleges serious welfare abuses at some of Scotland’s salmon farms.
It is to be handed to the Scottish Government on Monday.
Campaigners are demanding urgent action because sea temperatures rise over summer months, “further increasing the likelihood of disease among salmon populations.”
Secret footage of caged salmon near Loch Shieldaig in Wester Ross captured last month by salmon welfare campaigner Don Staniford, forced Marine Scotland to carry out an emergency inspection.
The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC), which operates the Loch Shieldaig fish farm, stressed that “fish health and welfare is fundamental to responsible salmon farming and intrinsic in our operations”.
“For years, we’ve known that Scottish salmon cultivation is as horrific as battery farming. Recent footage of the terrible conditions on salmon farms shows that the problem is only getting worse,” said Anna Liberadzki, campaigner at SumOfUs .
“As long as the mega corporations who own Scotland’s salmon farms can get away with it, they will allow the fish to suffer, while raking in huge profits for a so-called ‘sustainable’ product.
“Marine Scotland must step in. The alternative is a summer surge of salmon deaths and disease.”
Mr Staniford, Director of Scottish Salmon Watch, added: “Salmon farming is a welfare nightmare. We know from the Scottish government’s own surveillance that Scotland’s salmon farms are riddled with infectious diseases, pathogens and viruses. Unannounced inspections of salmon farms are urgently needed to prevent further mass mortalities and welfare abuse.”
In October 2018, in a response to a parliamentary question, Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, revealed that there had been only two unannounced site inspections of fish farms “in the last year”.
Campaigners say the Fish Health Inspectorate has a statutory requirement to carry out “unannounced site inspections.”
A flotilla protest against welfare abuses on Scottish salmon farms, organised by Scottish Salmon Watch, will take place on September 1 at various locations on the west coast of Scotland.
The SSC has said:”Salmon farming is the most highly regulated farming sector in the UK and our sites are regularly audited by a range of bodies, including Marine Scotland, Marine Scotland Science, the Fish Health Inspectorate and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.”