Must Watch: Farming Salmon Fillet-O-Fishally Sucks!


Dear Heaps Surfy Radness fans of whom I know there are many (Hi Mum! Hi Uncle Dick! Hi Fenoo the adorable giraffe baby!),

I’d like to apologise for the disappearance of HSR from this here Monster Children portal for what’s been nigh on six months now. Where it went and why are none of your beezwax, suffice to say I do feel kinda bad I’ve left you with almost no Surfy Radness to scope on MC, save for that arty black and white Former shit that Campbell is always posting.

Now, today, for no reason at all, I’ve decided to bring HSR back Die Hard 3 style, ie: with a vengeance, and to kick it off we’re gonna be taking a look at Fish movies, or to be more specific, fish movies produced and distributed by those wonderful environmental guardians over at Patagonia.

You see, it turns out that fishies are a very big and very lucrative industry, one that many of us support when we stir salmon into our leftover pasta which we then heat up in the work microwave to stink out the whole fucking office. Right now, fish farming, fish relocation programs, and the fillet-o-fish in general, are selling themselves as miracle solutions to our global food crisis when in fact, they are nothing short of greedy corpo attempts to make more bucks at the expense of the natural world and, alarmingly, they’re also bringing salmon to the brink of extinction. Artifishal is a feature-length doco that covers the processes and ramifications of this problem, while closer to home, Saving Martha (also produced by Patagonia) looks at how a proposed fish farm on King Island’s Martha Lavinia Beach threatens not only the local ecology but also one of the world’s best surf breaks.

These films are important to watch because—in case you haven’t noticed—a bunch of complete fuckwits are ruining everything and the only people who can stop them is you and me and especially you. Like I said, I’ve got heaps of shit on at the moment.

Still, I managed to find time to chat with Saving Martha’s Producer/Director Sean Doherty and get the lowdown on the roedown… what have you done for fish lately?


Net-pen salmon farms pollute otherwise pristine waters with parasites, pharmaceuticals, faecal waste and escaped domesticated fish. Alta, Norway.

So, Seano, Patagonia hates fish farms and have released two new films dedicated to educating people about why they suck? Can you give us the lowdown on why they suck and why we should watch these movies about fish farms that suck?

These films will make you ask questions about where the fish you’re eating comes from. The two movies address different issues. Artifishal comes out of North America and looks at wild rivers and wild fish, and how stocking wild rivers with hatchery-raised fish actually works against both. And Saving Martha is the story of Martha Lavinia beach on King Island, one of the best beaches in Australia, and how a huge publicly-listed aquaculture company wants to turn it into an industrial salmon farm. Salmon farming has become a huge business in Tasmania, and it’s a dirty business. Everything under a fish pen has a tendency to die in a drizzle of fish shit, and the business model to date has been to make a mess in one area, run down the local marine ecology, and then start up somewhere else and do the same thing again. This is what’s brought them to King Island.

When more equals less. Juvenile hatchery salmon flushed from a tanker truck can have a negative impact on wild
fish, and overall harvestable numbers of fish. San Francisco Bay, California.

King Island is such a beautiful place, and, as you say, Martha’s is one of the most pristine and perfect sandy white beaches on Earth with absolutely amazing waves… what kind of spin are the political puppets and corpo propaganda machines putting out there about fish farms being a good thing for the place?

The usual: jobs and growth. The only problem here is that King Island effectively has full employment already. The island’s dairy, beef and seafood industries are strong and the King Island brand is known around the world. The majority of islanders see a dirty industry like salmon farming as a huge risk to the island’s brand. It definitely won’t do much for surfers at Martha’s either. You know an industry is big and dirty when it’s got its own lobby groups and the aquaculture industry is spending millions on marketing to sell the idea that salmon is a healthy and sustainable food. I saw a film that an aquaculture lobby group made the other day where a high-profile surfer eats the fish food then jumps into a fish pen and claims it was like swimming in Lake Tahoe. Mate, if that’s Lake Tahoe, I’m an Atlantic salmon.

Concerned citizens protest net-pen salmon farms at a Cooke Aquaculture facility. Eight months later, the state legislature voted to stop the renewal of leases for Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound. Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Man, straight up facts aside, the whole fish farming thing seems so dystopian. It’s like we’re one step away from eating Soylent Green.

It’s pretty ugly when it’s heavily industrialised. The fish are pumped with antibiotics and artificial colouring. Farmed salmon is actually grey, not orange. The fish are kept under lights to boost growth and to stop them maturing sexually, and any neighbourhood seals who hang around looking for a feed and are deemed to be a nuisance are caught and trucked to the other side of the island.

Jesus. It’s hard not to feel like business and politics are steamrolling every effort to save the planet at the moment. Fucking Adani getting the green light and the protests against drilling in the Bight having almost no influence on the election outcome. How can we maintain the rage and fight the good fight without being consumed by the total hopelessness of it all?

Yeah, it’s a shitshow. I don’t think history is going to be kind to the guys in power right now. The best way to protect the environment is to get out amongst it. Surf in it or climb it or walk through it. Get out and enjoy it and from there you’ll do whatever it takes to save it.

Well said. Ok, give us the details. Where do we sign up and leave our messages to help try and block this King Island fish fuckery? Who can we go after and how can we be heard?

Easy. Don’t eat farmed salmon. Watch these films and educate yourself. Know what fish are sustainable and ask questions about whatever fish you buy. Take a surf trip to King Island, buy a pie, eat at the King Island Club and support the islanders.

Join Patagonia, locals on King Island and the global community in saying NO to farms on King Island – keep King Island fish farm free.

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