What a funny day it was today. All around the UK concerned people have taken to the streets to spread word about the environmental catastrophy of large scale fish farming of salmon. This is an issue many folks have been campaigning about for a good few years now, lead chiefly in this country by Bruce Sandison and the Salmon Farm Monitor group. Today was well publicised on the UK fishing forums, including the Wild Fishing Forum, from which several guys were out.
This is an important issue to me, and I think it should be for anyone with a passing interest in the well being of not only wild fish, but the environment in general. I am not a salmon fisherman. I have never fished for salmon, and I may never do so. However, the destruction wrought in the western coastal regions of Scotland, in large part due to the negative impacts of salmon farming, is truly shocking. Where there were once healthy wild fish populations there are now literally no fish at all. And the effects on the beautiful sea trout? Well, that’s even worse.
A pet hate of mine can be summed up by the phrase: “sayers, no dooers”. There is a big difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. I know this because it’s something that’s very easy to do, and I am certainly guilty of doing so on more than one occasion. This is part of what gave me the incentive to take part in the protest, or ‘action hour’ as it was called.
I joined up with a great guy called Bill in Edinburgh, and we spent an hour this morning handing out leaflets outside Marks and Spencers on Princes Street. You can just see the shop in the bottom left of the above photo. This was a particularly apt location because they sell both farmed and wild salmon. You can’t have it both ways.
There was due to be a few other folks but everyone dropped out bar the two of us, so we preached to the masses alone!
I learned a lot about life in that hour..! Some observations:
- There are a lot of people on Princes street on a saturday morning (err..surprise there)
- There were an amazing number of older folks (say over 70), more than I’ve ever realised. We really are living in an aging country
- Generally, younger people were more willing to take leaflets (perhaps reflecting that they ‘related’ to me better as our ages were closer..?)
- There are a lot of tourists in Edinburgh (and it’s flaming October!)
- Most people in this world succeed in looking incredibly miserable as they go about their day (think faces of granite)
- My ‘offers-to-acceptance’ ratio for giving people leaflets was probably 1 in 10. I need a bigger smile I think.
Standing in a street like this does not come naturally to me (or to most anglers I think). I didn’t really ‘enjoy’ it that much, but it was an experience. There were only a few really rude people, a couple of whom told me they were too old to give a shit about this sort of crap. Perhaps the clientele on Princes street were a little less receptive than people would have been at ‘out of town’ supermarkets. We still handed out loads of leaflets but I do wish more people had been willing to take one.
I think my overriding impression was that the vast majority of people really don’t want to be bothered as they go about their lives. I certainly know I’m bit like that. Many people don’t have the time or inclination to care about issues like salmon farming unless you’re really willing to put some effort in and spread the word. Indeed, you can literally see the horror on some people’s faces when they realise they’re walking towards you and you’re handing out leaflets and they might have to take one and oh shit oh shit it’s so horrible… Not everyone of course, but quite a few.
In the end, it was only an hour of ones time. It’s really hardly anything at all to give a tiny bit of effort like this to try and help a very worthwhile cause. There are plenty of other worthwhile causes in the world of course, but I guess this issue is one I feel a connection with because it affects wild salmonids, and I love wild salmonids.