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UPDATE: BBC airing salmon farming industry ‘exposé’

Panorama program promising to shed light on practices of salmon farming industry comes as sector faces renewed scrutiny around the world.

BBC TV’s long-running documentary program Panorama is airing an "exposé" on the salmon farming industry on Monday evening.

During the 29-minute program, reporter Lucy Adams asks UK consumers what they know about the salmon on their plate. The show also scrutinizes farming practices used in the £600 million industry (€685 million/$765 million), according to the BBC's description of the documentary.

The renowned investigative journalism program, first broadcast in 1953, attracts more than 2 million viewers.

Salmon farming has come under renewed fire recently with the launch of the documentary Artifishal, by outdoor clothing company Patagonia, in which it questions the wild-salmon hatchery system in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and partly blames salmon farming for declining wild salmon stocks.

The company's latest documentary, "Estado Salmonero," in Spanish, targets the expansion of the Chilean salmon farming sector, particularly in the Magallanes region.

Ahead of the broadcast, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said it fully cooperated with the BBC Panorama team, including an interview with the SSPO’s chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird.

During those discussions and a subsequent filmed interview, no specific allegations in respect to any SSPO member company were made, SSPO said, adding that publicity by the BBC around the Panorama broadcast appears to sensationalize the operations of a farming sector raising live animals day-to-day in natural surroundings and the routine dealings with the environmental regulator that all farmers, regardless of stock, are subject to.

“Scottish salmon farmers are strictly monitored and regulated," Hesketh-Laird said. "Scottish laws governing aquaculture are some of the strongest in the world and we welcome that – we want customers to be confident in farm reared salmon.”

SSPO said Scottish salmon farming sector is subject to over 1,000 audits and regulatory inspections every year, while medicinal use in salmon farming has fallen by 49 percent in the last decade as spending on innovation, natural preventative measures and alternative (such as mechanical) treatments have grown dramatically.


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