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So what did BBC's salmon industry 'exposé' reveal?

IntraFish Senior Reporter Lola Navarro takes a step by step look at the TV documentary which is bound to stir up controversy.

BBC's long running and renowned investigative journalism program Panorama ran a damning report on Scotland's salmon industry on Monday evening.

The 29-minute piece featured industry experts commenting on the sustainability of the industry, but showed numbers that contradicted experts' statements.

“The industry as a whole has breached chemical levels 28 times, Mowi’s sites accounted for 20 of those,” the program's reporter Lucy Adams said.

The documentary featured salmon farms along the Scotland's coasts, denouncing the existence of sea lice, salmon feces, stray feed and chemicals deposited on the seabed, as well as high levels of fish mortality in the country.

The Scottish Salmon Company was put under the spotlight for the proximity of three of its sites to dead wild salmon covered in sea lice.

“Inspectors had found that the three sites had satisfactory levels of parasite control,” Adams said.

Two weeks later, after footage of the salmon farms with signs of damage caused to fish by parasites was posted on a website, inspectors returned to the sites.

“They then sent two warning letters to The Scottish Salmon Company over parasite control,” Panorama said.

Scottish regulations were blamed for the growth of the salmon farming industry.

“We have a history of weak regulation of salmon farming,” David Ansley, a tour boat operator, said during an interview.

“A history where the sensible distances between farms have been reduced, where farms are allowed to pollute much greater areas.”

Mowi front and center

The program, broadcast Monday on BBC 1, also featured a former Mowi employee who did not wish to be identified and whose voice had been replaced by an actor’s claiming that the salmon giant does not live up to its sustainability pledges.

“Mowi has breached its weight licenses 46 times over the past decade at 16 sites,” the program said.

Mowi Director of Communications in Scotland Ian Roberts spoke on behalf of the company.

“Where we mess up, where we breach the license, we need to have an action plan in place and fix it, and we take full responsibility,” Roberts said.

Adams visited Norwegian salmon farms to look at “what they do differently,” and claimed Norway’s farms are better equipped to tackle sea lice.

The program highlights Norway’s development licensing system as an effective way of encouraging companies to come up with solutions such as closed and semi-closed salmon farms to prevent issues such as sea lice.

However, it failed to acknowledge that sea lice is also one of the main scourges of Norwegian salmon farms.

Globally, sealice costs the salmon industry an estimated $1 billion (€895 million) annually.

In addition, the report featured the salmon egg closed containment salmon production system in Norway, without acknowledging that Mowi worked on its development in conjunction with Hauge Aqua under a joint venture.

In an accompanying report on the BBC website, Mowi, the world's biggest salmon farmer, is one of a number of producers being investigated for possible misreporting of chemical use, Adams wrote.

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