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Winslet film asks us to cast salmon farming adrift


An environmental documentary narrated by the British actress Kate Winslet will highlight waste and disease on Scottish salmon farms as evidence of intensive farming’s harmful impact on the planet.

Eating Our Way to Extinction, which hits cinema screens next month, champions a plant-based lifestyle and warns that dependence on farm-reared fish and meat poses a threat to human health.

The film, co-produced by Winslet, who was recently nominated for an Emmy for her leading role in the HBO crime drama Mare of Easttown, aims to influence a sea-change in eating habits and to convince viewers to boycott farmed salmon.

Sources close to the film said video of diseased and discarded fish taken at Scottish farms had made the final cut.

A taster clip released on Facebook last year was heavily promoted by the Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who billed it as “the film future generations will be wishing everyone watched today”. It went viral with more than 25 million views. The film is due to be released for a one-night screening in cinemas on September 16.

In the official trailer, Winslet, who is vegetarian, describes Earth as “a dynamic symphony of forces working together” but warns there are signs that “our world is poorly prepared to cope and time is running out”.

The documentary highlights the effects of climate change, such as the spread of forest fires, destruction of eco-systems and the plight of more than 26,000 species that are on the brink of extinction. The spotlight is cast on major industry and intensive farming and the damage being inflicted on the planet and other species in the pursuit of growth and profit.

These include aquaculture, which is predicted to provide 60 per cent of the world’s fish consumption by 2030, up from about 50 per cent at present. There are concerns over excessive fish mortality rates— as high as 24 per cent on Scottish farms according to Compassion in World Farming in 2019 — and the use of wild-caught fish for feed.

The documentary comes hard on the heels of Netflix’s Seaspiracy, released in March, that showed the presenter Ali Tabrizi and the campaigner Don Staniford lifting the lid on a giant container of dead and diseased salmon on a Scottish farm. “Scottish salmon is a Titanic-sized environmental and health disaster,” Staniford said last week.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation said: “Scottish salmon farming has a great environmental story to tell with a low carbon footprint, low water use and a great feed conversion rate and, as the United Nations has recognised, farming the ocean is one of the best opportunities we have to feed the world and save the seas from over-fishing.”