The plans to build the European Union’s largest onshore salmon farm in the Belgian city of Ostend have been protested by animal rights groups. The farm is a proposal from the Norwegian salmon farmer Columbi Salmon, intending to exploit millions of salmons every year in a 13.5 hectares farm at the northern Flemish coastal city. According to the Columbi project’s 2020 announcement, their farm would be the largest land-based Atlantic salmon farm in Europe.
On 15th March 2023, the organisations Sea Shepherd Belgium, Animal Rights, Bite Back, Climaxi vzw and Gaia protested against the farm in Ostend. Although the farm has already been authorised by the Province of West Flanders, the animal rights organisations appealed to Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir, who will have to decide whether the farm’s permit is upheld.
Els Van Campenhout, the spokesperson for Animal Rights, said: “Three million salmon will suffer on this farm every year…Columbi Salmon could not answer questions about the discharge of wastewater or about the origin of the feed that will be fed to the salmon in Osten …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.”
The countries that contribute the most to European farming of Atlantic salmon are Norway (approximately 46 % of total European production), followed by Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Greece. These countries account for 90 % of all aquaculture production in Europe. Norway’s production is nearly all farming of Atlantic salmon.