Protests at plans for EU's largest onshore salmon farm

Animal rights groups are protesting against plans to build the European Union's largest onshore salmon farm in the Belgian city of Ostend. Norwegian salmon farmer Columbi Salmon wants to grow 12,000 tons of salmon a year in tanks in the coastal city. Campaigners are concerned about both animal suffering and the farm's impact on the environment.

The organisations Animal Rights, Bite Back, Sea Shepherd Belgium, Climaxi vzw and Gaia protested against the arrival of the salmon farm in Ostend on Wednesday. With a total area of 13.5 hectares, the Ostend farm will be the largest land-based Atlantic salmon farm in Europe, according to the project's 2020 announcement.

The farm already has a permit from the Province of West Flanders, but the animal rights organisations appealed to Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA). The Minister will have to decide whether the farm's permit is upheld.

"Three million salmon will suffer on this farm every year," says Els Van Campenhout of Animal Rights. Talking to the company raised even more questions, according to the organisation. "Columbi Salmon could not answer questions about the discharge of waste water or about the origin of the feed that will be fed to the salmon in Ostend," says Van Campenhout.

According to the activists, Columbi Salmon has been given permission not to produce an environmental impact report. "But the impact on the environment is unclear. Water will be discharged into the canal, chemicals such as medicines will be used, and 16 tonnes of sludge will have to be processed every day."

Animal welfare is important to Columbi Salmon, the Norwegian company said in a response to Focus/WTV. "Our goal is to breed quality salmon with a lot of attention to animal welfare and minimal environmental impact," Norwegian CEO Anders Hagen told the regional broadcaster.


#FlandersNewsService | Several animal rights organizations protesting against plans to build the European Union's largest onshore salmon farm in the Belgian city of Ostend © BELGA PHOTO MAAIKE TIJSSENS

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