Salmon farming is contributing to the ruin of marine ecosystems, through pollution, parasites and high fish mortality rates, research firm Just Economics said in a report entitled "Dead Loss" report commissioned by the Changing Markets Foundation campaigning organization.

The $20 billion (€16.5 billion) a year salmon farming industry is itself causing billions of pounds a year in damage, the report said putting combined costs at about $50 billion (€41.2 billion) globally from 2013 to 2019.

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Fish mortality has more than quadrupled to about 13.5 percent in 2019 in Scottish salmon farms alone, with about about a fifth of these deaths attributed to sea lice infestations although the true figure could be much higher, according the report, which was published Thursday.

Poor fish farm management is also cited as a cause of high mortality rates.

Quantities of fish required to produce fishmeal for aquaculture feed is causing problems for fishing industries in developing countries, whose stocks are being depleted to feed western consumption of farmed fish, the report claims.

In response, the International Salmon Farmers Association (ISFA) said the report is "simply activism masquerading as academic analysis," underlining that several main data points are cherry picked and in some cases are no more than guesses.

"Now more than ever activist groups must be held accountable for spreading false and misleading information," ISFA said.

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) pointed out that salmon farming ranks high when compared with other proteins.

"[It] has the lowest carbon footprint of any main livestock protein, it is a nutritious and healthy food and, as the United Nations and other international experts have acknowledged, aquaculture provides one of the best solutions to feeding the world's burgeoning population in the years to come," a spokesperson said.

"It is a shame that the authors have chosen to ignore these undeniable benefits when publicizing this report."